Much of the buzz around Saddleback Church’s conversation with the two presidential candidates last Saturday night is centered on the apparent consensus that the clear winner was neither Barack Obama nor John McCain but the moderator, Pastor Rick Warren.
Rick Warren is the enormously popular Evangelical Christian author of The Purpose Driven Life and other self-help books. He is also, as noted, the pastor of the mega-sized
Still, Evangelical Christianity has a long way to go to make up for some of the insidious behavior of its more public adherents. This past year’s revelations of some Evangelical Christians’ un-Christ-like deportment within the Justice Department has left many of us wondering what Christ they are following. When our former Attorney General’s top aide, Monica Goodling, a graduate of TV Evangelist Pat Robertson’s law school (!) decided to vet civil-service applicants by way of a conservative Christian agenda and then compound the deception by lying to Congress about her unlawful activities, Evangelical Christianity sustains one more piece of incriminating evidence that those on the Christian right seem to care little about the ethical teachings of Jesus.
And we all remember our current president’s designation of that same Jesus as his favorite philosopher during his first presidential campaign. One suspects Jesus must have moved far down the list as GWB employed the tools of deception, dishonesty and double-dealing during his tenure as commander in chief.
The bullying tactics of Evangelical Christians at such supposedly secular institutions as the United States Air Force Academy are well-documented and deeply disturbing. When a cadet’s chances of advancement are dependent on a particular religious practice, all citizens should be concerned about the very real threat to cherished constitutional freedoms.
Even granting that some of these folk are well-intentioned in their proselytizing, such activities can seriously threaten the inviolate separation of church and state. Out of
Many of us who claim an affinity to the teachings of Jesus are hoping that Pastor Warren continues to manifest his unusual approach to his Evangelical faith. His willingness to challenge conventional insular Christian thinking with a theology based on compassion and service rather than intimidation and deceit is encouraging to be sure but we all know what happened to someone else who tried that same approach two thousand years ago.