What did Megachurch pastor Rick Warren Really Say about Gays and Gay Marriage?

What did Megachurch pastor Rick Warren Really Say about Gays and Gay Marriage?

Summary of eRumor:

A forwarded email about a CNN interview with Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in Southern California.  It says that Warren disavowed support of Proposition 8.

The Truth:

In April, 2009, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California started granting media interviews for the first time since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Of particular interest to interviewers was Warren’s reaction to the controversy that resulted from his acceptance of the invitation from Mr. Obama to say a prayer at the president-to-be’s inauguration. Obama had been a friend to the gay community and there was an outcry that he asked an evangelical pastor who had endorsed Proposition 8 on the November ballot in California, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

Several articles and emails circulated on the Internet criticizing Warren after an April 6, 2009 interview on CNN with Larry King. One of the criticisms in an article from Baptist Press was that during the King interview Warren denied ever giving an endorsement to Proposition 8. Other critics said he seemed to be backing away from opposition to gay marriage.

In the interview, Warren did not deny ever endorsing the measure. He told King that during the two-year campaign for Proposition 8 he did not take a stand on it, but a week before the election he sent a message to his congregation in support of Proposition 8.

Here is the exact quote: “During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never — never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going. The week before the — the vote, somebody in my church said, Pastor Rick, what — what do you think about this? And I sent a note to my own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is — really should be defined, that that definition should be — say between a man and a woman.”

That statement was softer than the wording of his message to the members of Saddleback Church that Warren sent in October, 2008, just before the election. In it he said, “Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 — and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.”

A statement was issued on April 9, 2009 by Saddleback Church clarifying the statements on Larry King. It said, “Throughout his pastoral ministry spanning nearly 30 years, Dr. Warren has remained committed to the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, for life — a position held by most fellow Evangelical pastors. He has further stressed that for 5,000 years, EVERY culture and EVERY religion has maintained this worldview. When Dr. Warren told Larry King that he never campaigned for California’s Proposition 8, he was referring to not participating in the official two-year organized advocacy effort specific to the ballot initiative in that state, based on his focus and leadership on other compassion issues. Because he’s a pastor, not an activist, in response to inquiries from church members, he issued an email and video message to his congregation days before the election confirming where he and Saddleback Church stood on this issue.”

On the King show, Warren also said he had issued an apology to the gay community which critics took to mean that he was sorry he supported proposition 8. The church statement of April 9 addressed that issues as well. It said, “During the King interview, Dr. Warren also referenced a letter of apology that he sent to gay leaders whom he knew personally. However, that mea culpa was not with respect to his statements or position on Proposition 8 nor the biblical worldview on marriage. Rather, he apologized for his comments in an earlier Beliefnet interview expressing his concern about expanding or redefining the definition of marriage beyond a husband-wife relationship, during which he unintentionally and regrettably gave the impression that consensual adult same sex relationships were equivalent to incest or pedophilia.”

updated 04/13/09