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Obama and Warren

A lot of people have weighed in about the fact that Barak Obama spoke this week at a conference held at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Many pro-life activists urged Warren to disinvite Obama, but Warren refused. Of the columns written about this controversy, perhaps the best is a piece by Marv Knox, editor of the Baptist Standard. His column is entitled “Wanted: More compelling Christians.” Here are a few highlights:

How—and with whom—should Christians cooperate?

This issue surfaced again in the past few days, when some fundamentalist Christians demanded California pastor Rick Warren remove Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) from the program of his global AIDS summit because Obama does not oppose abortion.

... Still, the conservative activists criticized Warren and Obama because the Illinois senator is pro-choice. Interestingly, they overlooked flaws in other participants. Bono’s conscience-driven music positively stirs millions of listeners, but he has used the F-word on television. Bill Gates is an agnostic who once responded to a question about God’s existence by saying: “I don’t have any evidence of that. ... Religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.” So, Obama, a Christian brother who testifies to the role Christ plays in his life and supports his words with deeds of compassion and mercy, should be ineligible to help eradicate AIDS because of his views on abortion? Go figure.

... The activists’ action is appalling, not because of their view of abortion, but because of their view of Christian cooperation. We should not be required to agree on every issue or pass a litmus test in order to work together to achieve a common good or eradicate a pandemic evil.

Where are the Christians whose faith is strong and resilient enough to labor alongside others who may be very much unlike them but who share a common concern? We need more Christians who possess generous spirits, thick skins, soft hearts, keen minds and entrepreneurial spirits. Christians who don’t worry about being accused of associating with the wrong crowd as long as they’re working on the right causes. We need them to help eradicate AIDS and eliminate abortions. We need them to mediate peaceful relationships between adversarial enemies. We need them to live winsome, reconciling lives in their communities.
Amen! It is time to start working together whenever we can with whomever we can in order to make this world a better place. If we only work with those with whom we agree on everything, we will all be working alone. And that is not what Jesus desired when he prayed that we would be one.


  1. The attitude of folks like Wiley Drake towards Obama is a mirror image of the attitude of many SBC leaders towards the BJC especially during the late 80's and early 90's.

    Southern Baptists (particularly the Laymen of Missouri) never seemed to understand that it is appropriate for Baptists to form coalitions with Reform Jews, Humanists, Sikhs, and even the ACLU for the purpose of advancing and protecting Religious Liberty.

    I did find it interesting that the pro-life organizations chose to ignore the presence of Bill and Melinda Gates whose foundation has contributed Parenthood. Or even Laura Bush who has demonstrated soft pro-choice views. Perhaps it was the "D" behind Obama's name that ticked the pro-life crowd off the most??

  2. Thanks for the comment! I think you got the heart of the issue right. If Obama was exactly the same except the “D,” he would have likely gotten a very different reaction from many of his conservative Christian critics.


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