Red State Issues Open Letter to Rick Warren Prior to CNN-televised Candidate Forum

Hunter Baker at Red State has posted an open letter to evangelical pastor Rick Warren urging him to not avoid pressing the presidential candidates on pro-life issues in his August 16 "Compassionate Leader" forum to be aired on CNN (emphasis mine).:

In your news release about the candidate forum, you suggest that you will avoid "gotcha" questions. The topics highlighted in the release are poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate and human rights with a special emphasis on character and leadership rather than programmatic details.

There is much to be said for rising above partisan politics. After all, the church is on a mission from God to all the earth....

However, there are certain issues that demand the church's involvement, issues of basic justice, issues of life and death. Perhaps the least ambiguous of those issues is the protection of babies throughout pregnancy and immediately after birth. We live in a culture that, strangely, acts as though unborn children are like genies that can be stuffed back into the bottle. We know that isn't true. We know that abortions end with little piles of bloody flesh and bone. Fetuses don't merely cease to exist. They experience violent physical death.

There are many doctrinal issues that divide Christians, but the protection of young life should not be one of them. Pastor Warren, as Protestants, we are part of a tradition that loves to point to the early church -- the young church so pure in our estimation -- still uncorrupted by the power of empire. That church, that persecuted church, was a tireless defender of life. Early Christians counseled against abortion and actively rescued infants exposed to the predators and the wild by Roman parents who vested few rights in human beings shortly after birth. A child of the wrong sex or one who looked weak could be abandoned. How strange it is that today a candidate claiming to be a Christian could oppose the Born Alive Infants Protection Act or a ban on partial birth abortion! To do so is to disclaim not only a major part of Christian teaching, but also a cultural advance in favor of protecting the weak and innocent.

Warren, seen by Time magazine last year as a potential successor to Billy Graham as "America's minister", has received positive press in the mainstream media, both for his book "The Purpose Driven Life" and for his focus on fighting HIV/AIDS and combatting global warming.

Yet in the process of currying the media's good graces by adopting stances amenable to the political Left, there is a valid concern by conservatives such as Baker that Warren will fail to challenge the NARAL-backed Obama on pro-life concerns while pressing both candidates on backing liberal policy stances on global warming and U.S. spending on international aid.

Indeed, as Time's David Van Biema reported on August 7:

A shift away from "sin issues" - like abortion and gay marriage - is reflected in Warren's approach to his coming sit-downs with the candidates. He says he is more interested in questions that he feels are "uniting," such as "poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights," and still more in civics-class topics like the candidates' understanding of the role of the Constitution. There will be no "Christian religion test," Warren insists. "I want what's good for everybody, not just what's good for me. Who's the best for the nation right now?"

For its part, CNN very well knows Warren's aversion to focusing on traditional evangelical moral concerns, and so conservative media watchers can be justified in their skepticism about the CNN-Warren forum being anything but a homerun derby for Sen. Obama to knock liberal platitudes out of the park.

In an October 2005 article, Fortune magazine's Marc Gunther wondered "Will Success Spoil Rick Warren?" It will take til about 10 p.m. on Saturday evening to see if liberal media adulation has spoiled the California preacher.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters