Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren explains that the faith community in the U.S. has been more eager to collaborate with the U.S. government than the government has been to work with it.
“I’ve actually found it quite easy to work with other governments. They’re not nearly as afraid of the church as the American government is,” Warren told a Senate appropriations subcommittee dealing with funding for global health programs.
When asked by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) for an model of a government that is good at reaching out to the faith community for assistance, Warren explained that he works with foreign governments worldwide and that they are “very friendly.”
“They realize we’re not trying to do their work. Everybody has a different role to play and the church’s role is not government,” he said. “And the government’s role is not church, but on health issues, and on education issues and on development issues, you can team tackle. As I said, I found it easier to work with governments overseas.”
Lankford noted the irony of Warren’s experience.
“It is ironic we have distributed around the world this concept of freedom of religion and disconnect between government and faith and to say that government that doesn’t oppose faith” the Oklahoma lawmaker said. “But now we become like we’re afraid of faith and being able to partner. And it seems like it’s an obvious area of partnering,” he said noting the higher volume of churches to clinics and hospitals in most areas.
Earlier in the hearing Warren elaborated on some of churches abilities in this, namely that the church is “good at distribution.”
“In Africa, they say the pastor sleeps in the same blankets as the community. You know, when — I keep going back to Rwanda, because I’ve had 1,200 people in Rwanda,” Warren said. “When the genocide hit in 1994, every single NGO left the country. It was unsafe. Who stayed? The church. Because the church is the country. It is the country. And in most of the world you can’t talk about community development without talking about the church. It’s there. So I actually think [the faith community] would step up to the plate instantly if there was a little love on this side.”