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Steven Waldman Interviews Rick Warren

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose of Christmas," spoke with Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman at the offices of our partner, The Wall Street Journal.

3. If anyone, whether unfaithful spouses, or unmarried couples, or homosexuals or anyone else think they are smarter than God and chooses to disobey God’s sexual instructions, it is not the US government’s role to take away their choice. But neither is it the government’s role to classify just any “loving” relationship as a marriage. A committed boyfriend-girlfriend relationship is not a marriage. Two lovers living together is a not a marriage. Incest is not marriage. A domestic partnership or even a civil union is still not marriage.

4. Much of this debate is not really about civil rights, but a desire for approval. The fact that 70% of blacks supported Prop 8 shows they don’t believe it is a civil rights issue. Gays in California already have their rights. What they desire is approval and validation from those who disagree with them, and they are willing to force it by law if necessary. Any disapproval is quickly labeled “hate speech. Imagine if we held that standard in every other disagreement Americans have? There would be no free speech. That’s why, on the traditional marriage side, many saw Prop 8 as a free speech issue: Don’t force me to validate a lifestyle I disagree with. It is not the same as marriage.” And many saw the Teacher’s Union contribution of $3 million against Prop 8, as a effort to insure that children would be taught to approve what most parents disapprove of.]

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Beliefnet did a very interesting survey with about 5,000 of its own users after the election, especially evangelicals who voted for McCain and evangelicals who voted for Obama. As you might suspect there’s some stark differences between the two groups. One of the most interesting is that for McCain evangelicals, when asked to rank issues of importance they put abortion and gay marriage at the top and the Obama evangelicals put it lower down. The McCain evangelicals listed reducing poverty as 13th out of 14. So what’s your message to them?

Huh. Wow. That’s interesting. Well, that’s my whole job. I’ve got to reawaken what I call the 19th century evangelicalism. Evangelicals were historically the social change leaders in our society, as you know you’re a historian. It was evangelicals who led the abolition of slavery. It was pastors who led the abolitionists. It was evangelicals who led the women’s right to vote. It was evangelicals who led the issue against child labor laws. All of these major issues.

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Steven Waldman
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