Did Rev. Rob Schenk really owe Rick Warren that apology?
By Donald Hank
Last night, Christian Americans were pleasantly surprised to see Rick Warren posing really tough questions on abortion and same-sex marriage to the candidates.
As soon as the forum was over, Reverend Rob Schenk, one of Rick Warren’s fiercest critics, rushed to apologize for predicting that Rick Warren would not pose these questions, although I am not sure Rob actually predicted anything.
So should he apologize?
I too had written the article “will Rick Warren play softball with Barry and John?,” uttering my suspicion that Rick would play softball and let Obama, one of the most pro-abortion senators, go unchallenged. I knew the risk that Rick might actually talk tough this time, but I decided he needed a push, and the best push was to give him a chance to go “Na nyah na nyah nya” at the end of the debate. The strategy worked.
I know numerous Christians who, based on what they knew about Rick – who assiduously avoided these issues in the past, as if they didn’t exist, ranting on instead about poverty and the social gospel – had issued public statements urging Rick to ask the tough questions.
Rick never once promised he would. Had he been an impassioned defender of life before last night, not one of these activists would have felt compelled to urge him on.
Think about it: did any pro-life activist ever feel compelled to urge Dr. Dobson to ask tough questions on life issues?
Dobson has always been self-motivated. As for Rick, we will never know what motivated him, now will we?
Yet now, those who uttered legitimate concerns prior to last night are apologizing and thanking Rick for doing what he did (as if the Almighty had been a mere spectator).
I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that we all ought to be thanking not only God, first and foremost, but also Pastor Rob Schenk and scores of other staunch pro-life leaders for urging Rick and for praying hard for this kind of questioning to occur.
Today, a certain Randy J. sent me a copy of the news release regarding the Reverend Rob Schenk’s apology to Warren and the following terse message under the title “Ready to eat crow?”:
The entire nation will know you are a fool, Sir, if you do not do the same. You have misjudged a godly man.
I e-mailed this person, thanked him for contacting me and asked him to come to Laigle’s Forum and leave his comment there.
So far he has chosen not to, obliging me to answer here.
Randy, please take a look at my article “Will Rick play softball with Barry and John?” First, note that the title takes the interrogative form. I do not say Rick Warren will play softball.
Yes, it is true, I absolutely had doubts that Rick would not ask a hot button questions at his forum.
But were these doubts the product of some pathological paranoia on my part?
Remember that Rob Schenk had such doubts, and so did many pro-life groups who sent Rick an open letter urging him to ask the candidates about abortion. I think we can assume that countless others did the same, based on what we knew from the press.
The letter from the eight pro-life groups also urged Rick to ask about the candidates’ past voting records on abortion, which he did not.
So why did Rob Schenk and these pro-life groups doubt that Rick would do what he ultimately did?
Were they paranoid?
Let’s see. Here is a smattering of what the press was reporting, based mostly on what Rick Warren himself had said:
Hot-button campaign issues are expected to be off the table Saturday – instead Warren will touch on his broader priorities.
Aug 15 (TPM Café):
Warren is one of the new breed of evangelicals who care as much about social issues like poverty and AIDs as they do about the traditional hot-button issues, such as abortion and homosexuality, typically associated with the religious right. It’s reported that Warren, who is anti-abortion in his own personal beliefs, is facing intense lobbying from the traditionalists to press the candidates regarding their views on abortion. But Warren is said to be not particularly inclined to focus on abortion in this forum, “I will be raising questions … beyond what political reporters typically ask. This includes pressing issues that are bridging divides in our nation, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights,” said Warren of the forum.
Warren will interview each candidate separately for about an hour on the presidency and Constitution, the role of the United States in the world, global poverty and, possibly, abortion. [my emphasis]
But, Randy, your worst offense is not the false accusation that I predicted Rick Warren would not ask tough questions, but rather your total disregard for Rick’s admonition, at the end of his forum, to be civil in debate.
I invite you to look back over all my writing and see if I have called anyone a fool. Go ahead, search for the word “fool” at my website.
You see, I know what Jesus said about that. Want to know?
… whosoever shall say Thou fool shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matt. 5:22)
But if you read my column, then you know it only expresses my concerns about Rick’s hesitancy to discuss abortion, and also the general impression among Christians that he embraces left wing causes. He often is hard to distinguish from far-left “Christians” Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis, particularly when he talks about enlisting government in the worldwide struggle against poverty, healthcare and climate change, for example. His membership in the liberal think tank The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and his allegiance to their support for supranational government (like the African Union) is apparent in his agendas.
Last night he stayed on script, urging the candidates to use their presidency to help the world’s 148 million orphans, calling this an emergency. Recall that the welfare debate also framed the poverty as an emergency. We all know the outcome.
Let me be crystal clear:
Rick Warren is advocating socialist programs the likes of which have been tried and have failed in the past. The only difference is that his proposed programs risk bankrupting Americans now faced with the record gasoline prices and much less buying power than ever. He is expecting a different outcome but, should his programs be implemented, will only prove, once again, that socialism does not work. Tragically, we the poor, not he the rich, will pay. Now, Randy, that is a prediction.
Finally, there are issues vital to our nation that internationalist Warren ignored in his forum:
– tackling the oil crisis by down to earth means like drilling, building refineries, nuclear power and the like. To his credit, John McCain, and McCain alone, emphatically urged: drill here, drill now, to thunderous applause.
– the dangerous “Fairness” doctrine, which is not only an infringement on the First Amendment but is anything but fair because the universities and media – with the exception of radio – are all solidly in the hands of the left.
– illegal immigration. Neither the candidates nor Rick Warren seem to consider this a problem. While McCain frames the oil crisis as a national security issue, and rightfully so, he does not see any security problem in keeping our borders open and inviting 20 million lawbreakers to reside in our country indefinitely, inviting their friends and family to do likewise. This despite the roughly 19 Americans who die every day at the hands of illegal immigrants.
– Nor did Rick, or anyone else for that matter, touch on the way the rights of Christians are trampled in schools, the way any Christian (or other for that matter) opposing the homosexual agenda can be threatened with fines and jail under “hate” crimes legislation and allied human rights issues should such legislation pass.
If our “leaders” ultimately stand for anything, it is not thanks to them. It is thanks to what I call the “American sheep dog.”
Although Americans are chided for being sheep, or as Michael Savage says, sheeple, there is a significant number that can be called sheep dogs. That is, they nip at the heels of careless or dozing leaders, forcing them to lead.
Last night, President Bush was praised for picking good Supreme Court nominees. Yet his choices would not have been much better than his lackluster predecessors’ had it not been for watchdog troops like the FRC, the AFA, James Dobson’s organizations, etc., who urged members to write and call the White House to stop the nomination of Harriet Miers, a potentially disastrous choice. Likewise, the tenacious John McCain would never have backed away from his pro-amnesty, pro-open borders stance without us “sheep dogs” nipping at his heels during that legislative crisis last summer.
He is still wishy-washy enough to meet with the blatantly racist Mexican La Raza group, but would be even more radical without our monitoring.
Finally, to those who doggedly forced Rick Warren to ask the tough questions on life and same-sex marriage, my heartfelt thanks.
If America survives an Obama or McCain presidency, it will be thanks to your tireless efforts, your continued nipping at the heels of your inattentive helmsman.
And when he ultimately changes direction at your urging, remember: you owe no one any apologies. Quite the contrary.