Here I go defending Rick Warren again! To be clear I am not a fan of the whole Purpose Driven Movement and I believe it is a shame that churches will put big banners advertising a mans book that have never had any banner advertising the Word of God. But to be fair Rick Warren again appears to be taking unfair hits from friendly fire, ie, those within the camp. Many pro-life and conservative Christian groups are criticizing Warren for inviting Barak Obama, the Senator from Illinois, to speak at the Saddleback church. Warren is hosting a global summit on AIDS and Obama is one of the invited speakers. The argument is put forth that Warren is effecting his pro-life stance in inviting Obama, who is clearly pro-abortion. The problems with the argument, in my opinion are;
1. They are misleading. To read the criticisms you would believe that the conference is all about highlighting Obama. You would also believe he is speaking during a Sunday morning church service. The reality is that this is not the case, as I will highlight at the end of this blog. Obama is one of a number of speakers all there to speak on the AIDS epidemic.
2. Do not hold water. Warren inviting Obama to come and speak on AIDS has nothing to do with his changing his pro-life position. Warren is clearly pro-life and as a part of that is concerned with those who are living and riddled with AIDS. To me that is very pro-life. Now if you want to make the case that Obama is inconsistent in being pro-abortion and concerned with AIDS, that might be a different discussion but to make the connection to Warren and his pro-life stance changing is weak at best.
3. Context of the meeting. If Warren were holding a national summit of Planned Parenthood leaders then go to town on him, and I will lead the charge. The context of the meeting is AIDS, and apparently Senator Obama has something to offer in that regard. Would it be wrong to invite the leading physicist to an international meeting on Creation, if he were also pro-choice?
I just find it distasteful the way Warren has been vilified in the press and the blogs for trying to do something worthwhile on such a critical issue to humanity as AIDS. So for clarification for those who believe Obama being invited is some heinous thing to do, here is the roster of speakers for the summit;
Bill and Melinda Gates
The Gates Foundation
The ONE Campaign
Senator Bill Frist
United States senator, Tennessee
INTERNATIONAL HEALTHCARE LEADERS:
Robert Redfield, M.D.
The Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Edward Green, Ph.D.
Harvard University anthropologist and AIDS prevention authority
Christian Pitter, M.D.
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Paul Cimoch, M.D.
Center for Special Immunology
Innocent Nyaruhirira, M.D.
Ministry of Health, minister of state in charge of HIV/AIDS and other epidemics, Rwanda
Irene Khethi Mngadi
Director of HIV/AIDS, Department of Social Development, South Africa
Derek Spencer, M.S., C.R.N.P.
Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, JACQUES Initiative
Robb Sheneberger, M.D.
Assistant professor, senior medical technical advisor, Southern Africa University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology, Zambian Cell
Becky Kuhn, M.D.
Adult & Pediatric AIDS Clinic, Long Beach, Calif.
Scott Santibanez, M.D., M.P.H.T.M.
Associate director for partnerships with faith-based/community organizations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Anita Asiimwe, M.D.
Director, TRAC Treatment & Research AIDS Center, Rwanda
RELIEF AND HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS:
Richard E. Stearns
President, World Vision
President, Compassion International
President and C.E.O., Samaritan's Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
C.E.O and president, World Relief
Executive director, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
Rolando Figueroa, F.A.C.O.G.
Regional technical advisor, health, water and sanitation, Catholic Relief Services,
San Salvador, El Salvador
Mary Davis Fisher
Special representative for the Joint United Nations Programme on
International director, HIV/AIDS programs, World Relief
Laura van Vuuren
Training and education specialist, Northwest Medical Teams (Int., Inc.)
Ambassador Mark Dybul
United States global AIDS coordinator
Senator Barack Obama
United States senator, Illinois
Senator Sam Brownback
United States senator, Kansas
Assistant administrator of the Bureau for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development
Director, Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, U.S. Agency for International Development
Senior advisor, Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, U.S. Agency for International Development
PASTORS AND MINISTRY LEADERS:
Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini
Rwandan Episcopal Church
Bishop Charles E. Blake
Pastor, West Angeles Church of God in Christ, Los Angeles, Calif.; founder and C.E.O., Save AfricaÂs Children
Teaching pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, Calif.
Eugene F. Rivers, III
Pastor, Azusa Christian Community, Boston
Senior pastor, First City Baptist Church, East London, South Africa
Luis CortÃ©s, Jr.
President, Nueva Esperanza and Esperanza USA
Clifford L. Penner, Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist, Penner and Associates
Joyce J. Penner, R.N., M.N.
Clinical nurse specialist, Penner and Associate
Author, Loving Homosexuals the Way Jesus Would
Dale Hanson Bourke
President, PDI; author, The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis: Tough Questions, Direct Answers
Founder, AGAPE, Inc. International (A Global AIDS Perspective Enterprise)
HIV/AIDS coordinator, HOPE Transformation Anglican Church, Rwanda
Director, FamilyLife's Hope for Orphans
President, He Intends Victory
Living Stones Ministries
Rick and Barb Wise
Youth prevention specialists, Wise Choices
SADDLEBACK CHURCH STAFF:
Rick and Kay Warren
Founders, Saddleback Church and Saddleback Church's HIV/AIDS Initiative
Elizabeth Styffe, R.N., M.N.
Director, HIV/AIDS Initiative
Pastor, Missions and Global P.E.A.C.E Plan
Pastor, North America P.E.A.C.E. Plan
Pastor of pastoral care
Pastor, children's ministry
Pastor, CRAVE ministry
Pastor and founder of Celebrate Recovery
Pastor, high school ministry
Now doesn't the criticism seem silly?
blog you later,