Rick Warren's missives reach over 140,000 pastors around the world and in early 2009 Warren gave the opening prayer at Barack Obama's inauguration. But the “Purpose Driven” pastor has increasingly been dogged by controversy.
Mega-pastor Warren has just released a statement condemning pending legislation, before Uganda's parliament, which critics have characterized as a “kill the gays” bill. Warren's newly stated opposition to the bill is, of course, welcome. But Warren's declaration contains blatant lies and statements that verge on the bizarre. Why does Rick Warren feel the need tell the world that he has not “conspired” with C. Peter Wagner (an under-publicized but powerful religious leader), or anyone, to “rid the world of homosexuals” ?
Warren's statement presents a list of “Key Facts Concerning Recent Media and Blog Reports on Rick Warren's Position on Uganda” which contains nine “questions,” written by Warren himself, with answers written by Rick Warren too. Question #9 is, “Are you and Peter Wagner attempting to rid the world of homosexuals?” Warren answers his own question: “Absolutely not.” But who has accused Warren of such an evil plan ?
The statement also contains several blatant lies. in one, he claims that C. Peter Wagner wasn't his key advisor for Warren's 1993 doctoral dissertation. But the abstract of Warren's 350-plus page tome lists one academic figure, C. Peter Wagner, as Warren's “mentor” for the dissertation.
As described in Group Behind Uganda Anti Homosexuality Bill Expanding North America Effort, the College of Prayer, which played a major role in inspiring and organizing members of Uganda's parliament behind Uganda's globally controversial Anti Homosexuality Bill, has multiple ties to C. Peter Wagner's worldwide religious networks and is working to expand its influence in Canada's parliament.
The lies and mendacity, in Warren's 9-point “facts” list in his public statement, continue to pile up. In “fact” number three, Rick Warren writes,
[question] Are you a friend of the President of Uganda? [answer] No. I've never met him, and never had any kind of communications with him, or with any member of the Ugandan Parliament.
But Warren has in fact met with a member of Uganda's parliament, and whether Warren has met with the President of Uganda or not is irrelevant. Rick Warren has met numerous times with Janet Museveni, wife to the president of Uganda and a top member of Uganda's parliament. Janet Museveni spoke at Warren's 2005 Saddleback Church HIV/AIDS US conference and Rick Warren has also met with top (anti-gay) Ugandan government and religious leaders.
Warren then asks, in point (or “fact”) number four,
[question] Did the President of Uganda say he wanted his country to be Purpose Driven? [answer] No, he didn't. That was said by the President of RWANDA, not Uganda, at a national rally in Rwanda in 2005. Years later, the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda made a similar comment so people are confusing Uganda with Rwanda, the country next to Uganda….
But on March 29, 2008 the publicity firm for Rick Warren's ministry, A. Larry Ross Communications, Inc. issued a press release that directly contradicts Warren's insinuation that he never designated Uganda as a Purpose Driven nation. The first sentence of that release read,
“Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, this weekend launched a national Purpose Driven Living program in Uganda, a unified and focused effort to equip Ugandan leadership with practical tools to live lives of purpose in their homes, businesses, and communities.”
The release went on to describe how Warren had brought his Purpose Driven program to Uganda at the invitation of a coalition of Ugandan government, religious and business leaders.
Warren specifically traveled to Uganda for the launch of the Purpose Driven Uganda program which was to be spearheaded by Warren's P.E.A.C.E Plan. As the A. Larry Ross press release detailed, “While in Uganda, Dr. Warren met with First Lady Janet Museveni to discuss the PEACE Plan, an aggressive and progressive vision to promote reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick and educate the next generation.”
That release also states that Archbishop of Uganda Henry Orombi led the initiative. Rick Warren has long supported and associated himself with Orombi and other African Anglican bishops known for making vicious rhetorical statements that incite anti-gay hatreds. As I described in the December 4th, 2009 Talk To Action report, Rick Warren's Dissertation Advisor Leads Network Promoting Uganda Anti-Gay Bill,
Lausanne III will be held in Capetown, South Africa, in May 2010. Henry Luke Orombi, the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, will serve as chair of the Africa Host Committee and Rick Warren is on the Advisory Council. Warren has supported the role of Archbishops Orombi, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, and Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda as leaders in the GAFCON/CFA realignment of the Anglican church on the issue of homosexuality. As reported in a March 29, 2008 story from the AllAfrica.com news service, in March 2008 Rick Warren attended a conference of Ugandan Anglican Bishops who were protesting the Church of England's tolerance for homosexuality. AllAfrica, reporting on his appearance, summarized Warren's quotes as “homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right,” and directly quoted Warren as stating, “We shall not tolerate this aspect at all.”
Archbishop Orombi has claimed that “rich” homosexuals were “doing whatever it takes to make sure this vice penetrates Africa.” Rwanda's Archbishop Kolini spoke at a “peace crusade” gathering of participants from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania at which he was reported in the Rwandan News as “calling on churches in the East African region to fight against homosexuality for the good of the society.” Rwanda was Rick Warren’s first declared “Purpose Driven Nation” and Kolini serves on the steering committee for Warren’s Purpose Driven/P.E.A.C.E. Plan in Rwanda and Saddleback Church’s Rwandan HIV/AIDS HealthCare Initiative. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has warned that “Kolini sets a dangerous tone for the discussion of homosexuality in the country,” and that threats of anti- gay legislation are increasing.
Rick Warren's track record in Ugandan is, from the standpoint of gay rights, deplorable. Warren has openly worked with with virulently anti-gay Ugandan religious activists such as Martin Ssempa, who has published in newspapers the names and addresses of Ugandans accused of being gay. Warren has also associated with and supported Ugandan leaders whose venomous anti-gay statements have almost certainly helped to fuel the rising climate of anti-gay hatred in Uganda.
As one final, surrealistic touch in his 9-point “facts” list, Rick Warren complains that his April 17th, 2005 speech at California's Anaheim Angels stadium, in which Warren encouraged tens of thousands of followers and attendees to be as dedicated as the followers of Hitler, Lenin, and Mao, had been “grossly misrepresented.”
That criticism originated at this web site and came from this author. My YouTube videos [1,2] showcasing Warren's two “Hitler/Lenin/Mao” and “Hitler/Mao” public speeches have received, so far, over 55,000 views.