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December 03, 2008

Mega-church pastor flexes political muscle on World AIDS Day


Barack Obama, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health was an attempt to demonstrate the mega-church pastor's political muscle in the global AIDS community, both at home and abroad.

Warren gave president Bush a medal for his work on AIDS. Barack Obama released his World AIDS Day address at Warren's event.

Warren is a master of the evangelical soft sell. He's committed to fighting AIDS and he says he'll work with anyone to get the job done, including governments and atheists. It sounds tempting, especially considering the vast resources of Warren's 26,000-member church and merchandising empire.

It's easy to forget that Rick Warren's overarching goal is quite literally to colonize the world for Christianity.
What happens when church dogma conflicts with scientific knowledge about how to prevent AIDS. I approached the Saddleback Church for an interview, and they promised to get back to me, but I haven't heard from them. The current funding scheme mandates instruction on condoms in addition to abstinence indoctrination. What if a Christian "partner" doesn't believe in promoting condoms at all?

Does the United States want to tie AIDS relief so closely to Christian missionaries? If other faith-based initiatives are any guide the overwhelming majority of partnerships will be with Christian organizations.

A frequent obstacle to fighting AIDS is the perception that foreign "help" comes with strings attached.

Packaging AIDS relief in a Christian wrapper reinforces those perceptions, especially in countries where missionaries are actively trying to take converts away from the indigenous religion.

Obviously, medical missionaries are nothing new. We can respect their methods without committing the US government to that model.

Clearly, Rick Warren has major political pull. In my latest story in RH Reality, I discuss how Obama's AIDS agenda might clash with Warren's.

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Comments

What if a Christian "partner" doesn't believe in promoting condoms at all?

Um--this is Saddleback. They are not Catholic. Evangelicals almost never oppose condom use-that's a Catholic distinctive.

I'm asking as a general question, what happens if a religious partner doesn't see eye-to-eye with the priorities of the government, not about Saddleback specifically.

Here in the US lot of evangelicals vehemently oppose comprehensive sex ed for unmarried teenagers. I don't know if Saddleback is in that camp, if their spokesman gets back to me, like he promised he would, I'll let you know what I find out.

It's easy to forget that Rick Warren's overarching goal is quite literally to colonize the world for Christianity.

I don't know anything about Warren or his church--does this mean he wants a Christian government which is the parent state for all people and territories in the world, replacing all established sovereign authority?

I dunno, but I doubt that.

The Bible commands Christians to try to spread the Word to all nations. I don't think it commands them to set up Christian governments or that it forces anyone to accept the Word if they don't choose to.

You didn't mention the title of the medal Warren gave to Bush -- “International Medal of PEACE”.

Either Warren's got a sick sense of humor, or Jesus ate his brain a long time ago.

Oh, my bad. I see you had an entire post about the Bush medal!

OK, I think it's time for Warren to STFU:

"Last night, on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted that United States needs to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, "Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?" Warren responded, "Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.""

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