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Nov. 30 2009 - 10:19 am | 74 views | 2 recommendations | 6 comments

Rick Warren refuses to condemn death penalty for homosexuality

Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church at Lake...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

I think I was too hard on Meet The Press the other day. Here I was, fussing that MTP rarely includes leftist voices on its panels when something much bigger was happening. Now I understand that the producers of the longest-running television show in worldwide broadcasting history can’t include leftist perspectives because they have to create a “safe space” for the views of people like pastor Rick Warren, who recently refused to condemn the idea of a death penalty for gays in Uganda.

In a recent interview with Newsweek, Warren refused to reject the ideas of Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan pastor who has come to his Saddleback Church multiple times, and whose stunts include burning condoms in the name of Jesus and endorsing state executions for homosexuals.

But Warren won’t go so far as to condemn the legislation itself. A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan anti-homosexual laws generated this response: “The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

Yes, one wouldn’t want to interfere with the political process of an autonomous nation. Meanwhile, Warren and his tax exempt church are fine with meddling with the political process in this country. The pastor was a key player in endorsing Prop 8, which amended California’s Constitution to say marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

But don’t take my word for it. Warren stated his support for Prop 8 in this video:

Let me just say this really clearly. We support Proposition 8. And if you believe what the bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues, I come out really clear…. We should not let 2% of the population determine — uh, to change the definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture, and every single religion for 5,000 years.

Apparently, this was taken out of context because Warren later panicked and tried to distance himself from the movement. He told Larry King that he “never once even gave an endorsement” of the proposition.

Let me just say this really clearly. We support Proposition 8.


Warren has also compared homosexuality to incest, pedophilia, and bestiality, though this totally doesn’t mean he hates gay people, he explained to MSNBC’s Ann Curry:

I could give you a hundred gay friends. I have always treated them with respect. When they come and want to talk to me, I talk to them.

I talk to them, but I’m also cool with them being killed by the state. I can see why MTP didn’t want to let this gem slip through their fingers. Warren reiterated his refusal to condemn the crazy Ugandan pastor yesterday on his most recent MTP appearance, Newsweek reports:

“As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides.” Warren did say he believed that abortion was “a holocaust.” He knows as well as anyone that in a case of great wrong, taking sides is an important thing to do.

Of course, Warren is lying here. He is taking sides. He believes abortion is a holocaust and it’s sometimes acceptable for homosexuality to be punished with the death penalty. That’s “taking sides” if ever I saw it.

As historian Howard Zinn says, you can’t be neutral on a moving train. We’re all resisters or collaborators by nature, even if we fold our hands and claim to be doing nothing because “doing nothing” allows those who are doing something (like actively promoting the killing of homosexuals) to operate unimpeded. So the train is moving in Uganda toward death sentences for gay people, and if pastor Ssempa is the train conductor, Rick Warren is at least a porter.

But like I said, I think I’ve been too hard on MTP. There’s no way one Sunday morning show can facilitate both extreme right-wing rhetoric (people should die for their sexuality,) and extreme left-wing rhetoric (America should have universal health care and US troops should leave Iraq and Afghanistan). I mean, there are only so many hours in the day, right??


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    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

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