Rick Warren Shows a Little Political Muscle

I'm usually totally against churches inviting candidates in to speak, because normally it results in the church endorsing a particular candidate, which I believe can be dangerous and an abuse of church authority. But this story intrigues me.

Rick Warren has managed to do what none of the news networks could do. He's getting McCain and Obama in the same building together. On Saturday August 16th at the Saddleback Church from 5-7 pm, Warren is hosting an event he's calling Saddleback Civil Forum: Compassion & Leadership. The two candidates will be interviewed by Warren seperately.

Obviously, an event like this has the potential to go bad. But I'm really looking forward to seeing how this turns out. If this goes according to plan, it could be a very refreshing moment in the campaign. One of the things I love most about this is Warren saying I know both of these guys and they're good men and I want the rest of the country to see that. I think all too often we have a nasty tendency of demonizing the candidates we don't support, when chances are they're good people whom we simply have differences of opinion with.

Wolf Blitzer interviewed Warren on CNN about the event. Here's a portion of that interview:

BLITZER: Pastor Warren, how did you do it? How did you convince both of them to show up?

PASTOR RICK WARREN, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Well, Wolf, they've both been friends for a long time. I knew both John and Barack before either of them decided to run for office, had talked with them. Both of them have helped me in the past with our peace plan and with -- they've sent messages to Saddleback at some of our conferences.

And so I just thought let's -- you know, I might be the guy to get them together. So, I called them up and said, let's do it. And they said, well, we'll do it if you be the only questioner, if you don't have a forum, don't have a panel. And if you'll ask all the questions, then we'll do it.

BLITZER: But they're not going to be together. They're going to be separate. These are going to be Pastor Warren and Barack Obama, followed by Pastor Warren and John McCain. But there's not going to be any interchange between the two of them, is that right?

WARREN: Yes. I'm going to -- my plan is to bring them out on stage together at the beginning or at the end. But what I want to do is I want to let each of them talk without interrupting each other. And it's not a debate format. There will be plenty of time for debates. What I want to do is get people to know the real person like I know them without a time barrier and a buzzer and a time for rebuttal. Let them just speak what they need to say.

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