J Walking

J Walking

Inanity, idiocy, and real hope

Day after tomorrow Rick Warren will be holding a massive two-day conference on the global AIDS crisis at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. It is an extraordinary event that will include addresses by Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates, Sen. Sam Brownback and Se. Barack Obama. The goal of the event as I pointed out in a previous blog is to “serve the hurting like Jesus did.”

Sounds good, right? After all, the HIV/AIDS statistics are staggering:

  • 39.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS including more than 2 million children.

  • 4 million new cases a year

  • Nearly 3 million deaths per year.

Rick Warren and his wife Kay are leading like Jesus did.


Why? As Rick told me one day and as he has said elsewhere it began with Kay’s suffering. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and as she was lying on the couch one day struggling with the effects of chemo, she saw an article on the epidemic and began crying. We have to do something she told her husband, we have to do something. Her suffering lead her to identify with the suffering of others and so this effort began.

But some are now attacking Warren. Who? Religious right, “pro-life” leaders. Here are excepts from an article on the attack:

Warren cannot hope to fight the “evil” of AIDS while “justifying another” evil — abortion. In a Nov. 28 letter, representatives from 18 pro-life groups condemned Warren for inviting Obama, who supports abortion rights.


“In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick Warren’s decision to ignore Senator Obama’s clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church anyway,” the letter said. “If Senator Obama cannot defend the most helpless citizens in our country, he has nothing to say to the AIDS crisis. You cannot fight one evil while justifying another. The evangelical church can provide no genuine help for those who suffer from AIDS if those involved do not first have their ethic of life firmly rooted in the Word of God.”

The signatures on the letter included Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum, Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, and Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association.


Are they so blind and possessed with such a narrow definition of life that they can think of life only in utero? Are they so partisan they feel the need to attack any ascendant Democrat after this fall’s elections? Or is there another explanation? I think there is. I think that these old, tired, “Christian” political powerbrokers realize their time is past and they realize that those Jesus followers they felt they could easily command are moving on. Because there is nothing that they can say and nothing that they can do to stop the march of righteousness that is moving countless Christians to give money, time and life to helping the most hurting people in the world. Here is one example:

  • Just outside of St. Louis, Missouri Pastor Jeff Perry leads the St. Louis Family Church. Their motto is simple, “Honor God. Help People.” Those words are displayed behind the pulpit. They do. 18-wheel trucks leave regularly from the church parking lot to go to New Orleans where rotating teams of people work to rebuild. Across the world his brother is helping rebuild homes in Sri Lanka. During this last campaign season Pastor Perry closed his pulpit to politicians and in so doing made an important statement about what matters most.

This movement is new and it is just starting and there is a long way to go. As N.T Wright would put it, the kingdom of God involves God’s people putting the world to rights, but it’s a constant struggle both against the various powers that be AND against ourselves (ie, against our capacity to fall short of the vision of the kingdom). That being said, onward Christian compassion.

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posted November 29, 2006 at 3:14 pm

And to avoid blatant hypocrisy, those “Christian” powerbrokers need to ban all pro-war(pro-death) members of Saddleback Church and the entire U.S. evangelical movement. Then, and only then, will I start taking them seriously.

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posted November 29, 2006 at 4:57 pm

I think you are right that these certain Christians feel their ‘power’ fading. While I am pro-life, I do not hate those who feel otherwise. All Christians have the common bond of faith in Jesus Christ upon which to unify. When those certain leaders seek to divide Christians from one another because of differing views they cause their brethren to stumble and they set themselves up for a fall.

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posted November 29, 2006 at 6:56 pm

This so clearly illustrates David’s contention that politically-motivated, mean spirited Religious Right Christians have tarnished Jesus’s image. It seems crazy that any Christian would attack another for trying to help those in need. Basically they are saying that any effort to ease suffering is irrelevant unless thier own brand of Christian – an no one else- is involved. Insane. Could Jesus really be that cold-hearted and myopic? NO! But I bet lots of people think he must be! Look what his self-proclaimed messengers are saying! I too am hopeful that more Christians go the way of Pastors Warren and Perry and just help people. Thank you David for continuing doing what you are doing.

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SJ Camp

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:09 pm

David Kuo’s argument is foolish and benign. Obama has a lot to answer for for supporting PBA Partial Birth Abortion and then with utter political hypocrisy say he is for fighting for the life of those dying with AIDS. I have ministered to those with AIDS for almost twenty years. It is an issue worth fighting. And people with AIDS need hope. As a Christian, the greatest hope anyone could have is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We will all die one day–that is a certainty. But are we prepared to die and face eternity? This has always been the supreme mission of the church–the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Pro-lifers are not old and out of date–they couldn’t be more relevant in today’s moral pluralistic society that is duplicitous at every turn. Mr. Warren should be ashamed for supporting his “can’t we all get along” political religious agenda in having Obama speak. David, good book, “Tempting Faith” – I enjoyed reading it. But your column here couldn’t be more off target. Sincerely, Steve Camp

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Christopher Johnson

posted November 29, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Oh please. Your assertion that “these old, tired, “Christian” political powerbrokers realize their time is past” borders on libel. And if you’re quite willing to write off life in utero, if you’re willing to overlook or justify killing the unborn(even up to the point of birth) so that you can focus on people who might some day tell you how wonderful you are, then your alleged concern about AIDS is nothing more than the lowest form of political posturing.

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posted November 30, 2006 at 6:38 pm

No one is “writing off life in utero.” They’re just saying AIDS is one issue, and abortion is another. It is possible for people to have differing viewpoints and still be right with God, you know.

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posted December 1, 2006 at 1:15 am

Here’s a couple of worldly, scholarly, seemingly intelligent, supposedly Godly, self acclaimed Christians who obviously don’t have the good sense God gave a goose!! To get the point the idiots have to read the whole book…………….and I’m not talking about YOUR book!!!

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posted December 1, 2006 at 8:41 pm

“god-is-in-the-tv: “…It is possible for people to have differing viewpoints and still be right with God, you know.” The problem is, you might as well be saying the above in Chinese to the folks that we’re talking about in this column. They simply do not understand what you mean by that statement. Nor do they see their hypocrisy in supporting the war, allowing people to suffer and die in Darfur, or the death penalty. Or of a woman dying because abortions for any reason are outlawed. For these people, there is no such thing as a continuum of an issue, of coming together, dialogue, or respectful disagreement–only the black and white ideology of control. I sometimes wonder what we can do when religious people refuse to listen or to acknowledge anything that is not what they already believe, and furthermore try to stop the rest of us from having different ideals. I have concluded that we just might have to act like we don’t hear THEM, move ahead and leave them behind.

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posted December 4, 2006 at 6:53 pm

For these people, there is no such thing as a continuum of an issue, of coming together, dialogue, or respectful disagreement–only the black and white ideology of control. Amen. And Amen.

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posted March 5, 2012 at 3:24 am

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