Wow. This story is a year old, but I learned about it only last night. And I owe a "hat tip" for it right at the outset to someone who does not blog--my husband, Tim. In fact, one of the "smoking gun" links was something he found, though obviously someone else put it out there to be found. But it isn't mentioned, that I know of, on another blog. I'll note that one when I get to it.
Here's the story, as initially covered by Joseph Farah, of WND: Last year, Rick Warren, of Purpose Driven (TM) fame, went to Syria and fell all over himself talking about how wonderful and tolerant Syria is. He was so reported in the Syrian news (of course). He also made the stunningly ignorant statement that St. Paul was Syrian, but I suppose that's by the way.
So far, so unsurprising.
Warren has been moving leftward for some time, wanting to promote peace, luv, and fluffy bunnies to all the world. And letting yourself be a tool for propaganda purposes by totalitarian regimes is almost a tradition for big-name Protestant evangelist types. Billy Graham was infamous for it during the Cold War. As for the ignorance of history and shoddiness that allowed the statement about St. Paul, let's just say that if you've read Warren's book, that won't surprise you. (The ladies' Bible study I attend was Purpose Driven (TM) through the book a couple of years ago until we nearly broke out in open rebellion.)
Okay. Well, Farah felt that finally enough was enough, and he told Rick in no uncertain terms that all this "Syria is so graaand" stuff was pernicious nonsense. Whereupon Warren wrote to him more in sorrow than in anger, gently chiding him for not fact-checking his story with Saddleback church first. After all, y'know, the media in those types of countries isn't to be relied upon. Had he, asked Farah, recorded his own trip to provide a more accurate record? Why, no. Of course not. It was a courtesy call. He didn't record anything.
But Farah found that this was a lie. Warren was recorded while in Syria saying very much the sorts of things the Syrian media attributed to him. Farah confronted Warren with this, whereupon within minutes the video was pulled from Youtube, but not before a radio talk-show host from Tulsa had downloaded the audio. You can listen to it in another of Farah's pieces, here. The voice is clearly recognizable as Warren's.
That's pretty bad, but there's even one more small bit of evidence, and here it is, in the link Tim found. Unfortunately this link requires you to watch rather a lot of Warren before you get to the punchline, so I'll tell you what you're waiting for: About seven minutes in, Warren brags to his church about his "peace trips" and says that on the trip to three countries (Germany, Rwanda, and Syria) they recorded many hours of video, which for the people of Saddleback they have boiled down to three minutes. The video he plays does indeed contain a segment in Syria, though it does not contain (no surprise) the bit in the audio clip. Still, it shows quite definitely that they did indeed make videotapes of their trip to Syria. I doubt that of those sixteen hours or so, only that short bit was shot in Syria!
I have to admit to being shocked. I can believe Warren a soft-hearted and left-swinging fool. I hadn't wanted to think him a liar.
Why should you care? Here's why:
The evangelicals of America are very important to the fights both against Islam and against liberalism. You may like them or dislike them. You may be one of them or not. But if you have eyes to see and any sociological sense at all, you can see that they provide a huge amount of the foot-soldiering for the various culture wars, and that if they can be mobilized to recognize the Islamic threat, they can provide foot-soldiering there, as well. They have given us the Christian schools and the homeschooling movement of the past forty years (Christian schools first, then home schools), which have had an enormous part in saving a generation from brainwashing and are going to save more generations still.
Just as Catholics know that it is important to Protestants whether the Catholic Church goes off the rails (and it is), so it is important to Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and assorted other Christians if the evangelicals go off the rails. I'm inclined to say that this is because, in the words of that famous Jew of Tarsus, we are "all members one of another," part of the same Body. But whether you put a sociological or a spiritual significance onto it,we cannot ignore what is happening to the evangelicals. And the megachurch movement, and still more, the Emergent Church movement, are sapping that vitality. And if the leaders of these movements lie to save their images, that is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual problem.
So Rick Warren's lie may be a small thing in the life of a big man, but it may not be such a small thing in the big picture.