Rick Warren has announced that he is cancelling the sequel to his civil forum which was scheduled to feature President Obama and Governor Romney in a televised interview format. Warren said the ongoing uncivil discourse of the campaign caused him to cancel the event.
Four years ago Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren held a forum at his church in which John McCain and Barack Obama answered questions on a number of topics. One of the highlights you may recall from the event was Obama’s statement that questions about when an unborn child becomes a human with rights were above his pay-grade. It was an obvious dodge of a question that is central in the abortion debate.
Warren had reached out to both candidates and they had each agreed to participate in a 2012 version of the same event. However, the tone of the campaign caused Warren to reassess. He told the Orange County Register “The forums are meant to be a place where people of goodwill canseriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable orresorting to personal attack and name-calling. But that is not theclimate of today’s campaign. I’ve never seen more irresponsible personalattacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and Idon’t expect that tone to change before the election.”
In place of the now cancelled civil forum with the candidates, Warren will instead host an event focused on religious liberty. He framed the event in terms of fundamental civil rights rather than politics, “The constitution doesn’t just guarantee your freedom to worship; itguarantees you freedom from government intervention in you daily livingout what you believe. That’s why we’ve chosen to host a civil forum onreligious freedom in September instead of the presidential forum.”
Despite Warren’s take on this being about the 1st amendment, it’s not hard to see where his take might apply in the current debate between HHS and religious hospitals. He explained how his views support religious liberty across theological lines, “If the government suddenly decreed that all Jewish delis must now offerpork, you’d find me opposing that with my rabbi friends. I don’t have aproblem with pork, but I support your right to follow your faith.” Pressed more specifically on how this applies to the candidates, Warren responded “President Obama’s policies clearly show what he values and I have toldhim that I adamantly disagree with those particular policies.”