Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

warrenobama.jpgIs the shine coming off Saint Rick?
In the hours since Rick Warren granted God-o-Meter am interview on Sunday evening, a day after his Saddleback Civil Forum with John McCain and Barack Obama, GOM has been struck by Warren’s steadfast refusal to apologize for misleading Forum viewer’s about McCain being sealed inside a cone of silence during Obama’s interview. We now know that wasn’t the case, but unless God-o-Meter has missed it, Warren isn’t owning up to the error. He got defensive when God-o-Meter asked him about it Sunday night:

Some Obama supporters are claiming that McCain saw the questions before the forum began, giving him a leg up on Obama.
Warren: They’re dead wrong. That’s just sour grapes. They both did fantastically well. The only question he knew, I gave them the first question and I was changing the questions within an hour [before the forum began.] I talked to both of them a week before the debate and told them all the themes. I talked personally to John McCain and I talked personally to Barack Obama. I said, ‘We’ll talk about leadership, talk about the roles of government,’ I said I’d probably have a question about climate change, probably a question on the courts. I didn’t say, ‘I’m going to ask which Supreme Court justice would you not [nominate]. They were clearly not prepared for that.
A source at the debate tells me that McCain had access to some communications devices in the few minutes before he went on stage with you and that there was a monitor in his green room, in violation of the debate rules.
Warren That’s absolutely a lie, absolutely a lie. That room was totally free, with no monitors–a flat out lie.

An absolute lie? With McCain in a motorcade for much of Obama’s interview, how can Warren be sure?
Beyond the “cone of silence” controversy, God-o-Meter wonders if the forum also showed Warren to be muchless willing to embrace Democrats than he lets on. In his interview with God-o-Meter, Warren avoided any criticism of McCain or the Republicans. But he took repeated shots at the Democrats and Obama. For example:
1. In response to GOM’s question about how much headway McCain made with wary evangelicals with his stellar perfomance at Saddleback, Warren said:

For many evangelicals, of course, if they believe that life begins at conception, that’s a deal breaker for a lot of people. If they think that life begins at conception, then that means that there are 40 million Americans who are not here [because they were aborted] that could have voted. They would call that a holocaust, and for them it would like if I’m Jewish and a Holocaust denier is running for office. I don’t care how right he is on everything else, it’s a deal breaker for me. I’m not going to vote for a Holocaust denier….

So for evangelicals that believe that life begins at conception–evangelicals like Warren–voting for a pro-choice Democrat, say Barack Obama, is tantamount to backing a Holocaust denier. Strike one against the Democratic nominee.
2. When GOM asked about the Democratic platform’s new abortion reduction language, Warren said:

…The general perception was: too little too late–window dressing. I’m not saying I would say this, because I haven’t even read it, but what I was hearing form people was that [Democrats] were saying “It’s OK to be pro-life and be a Democrat now.” In other words, “You can join us. We’re not changing our firm commitment to Roe v. Wade, but you can now join us.” Well, for a person who thinks that abortion is taking a life, I’m sure that’s not going to be very satisfactory to most of those people. And to put it in right at the last minute at the end of a campaign, there was some question about that: Why are they doing this?

Strike two against Obama and the Democrats.
3. Asked about Obama’s “It’s above my pay grade” response to his question on when life begins, Warren said:

I think he needed to be more specific on that…. to just say “I don’t know” on the most divisive issue in America is not a clear enough answer for me.

Strike three.
4. Here’s Warren on the Democrats stepped-up religious outreach efforts since the 2004 election:

….After the 2004 election the Democratic pundits were saying, “The Democrats lost in ’04 because they didn’t talk the language of faith.” And actually that’s kind of, not paternalistic, but it’s talking down. It’s basically saying, “If you just get the right words, then they’ll think you’ve got the lingo.” And just because a person can say God and Jesus and salvation and whatever doesn’t mean they have a worldview.

You get the picture. Warren offered no equivalent condemnation of traditional Republican positions.
And when GOM asked him what happened to all the post-Christian Right issues so close to his heart–AIDS, climate change, poverty–during the forum, which focused on culture war issues like abortion, judges, the power of religious groups to discriminate with federal funds, gay marriage, etc., Warren demurred:

…a lot of the questions I wanted to have answered I actually forfeited in the last section in order to let them share the stuff they wanted to. I had a question that got asked only of Obama about human trafficking. I had a question on AIDS that I didn’t get to ask. I had a question on climate change that I didn’t get to ask. I had a question on poverty, the causes of poverty and the solutions to poverty. Because they took up so much time in some of their answers, when we got down to the end, some of my questions got bumped…

But where are Warren’s priorities? Were questions about the ability of religious groups to discriminate, which Warren found time for, more pressing than those about international poverty or global warming? God-o-Meter thinks that’s a stretch. So might Warren’s vows that he’s willing to engage both parties in good faith.


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