Although I'm not a hyper-megachurch kind of guy, I really like Rick Warren. He's had ever opportunity to take advantage of his Christian celebrity status for personal gain and continually refuses to do so. Also, he's using his large church's influence to support issues like poverty and AIDS, so even though his congregation is large, it's influence is not intentionally introverted.
And I can understand why he thought it would be a great idea to get the two Presidential candidates together this past weekend for an interview at his church. Warren was trying to give both men the opportunity to answer questions on faith and morality so the people could see for themselves, as well as highlighting the importance of the evangelical vote. But even though he had good intentions, I wasn't convinced this was a good idea. True, Warren will not endorse any one candidate and maintain objectivity throughout the election season[which will keep his church from the wrath of the IRS], but the American political arena is a sewage pit. And you cannot dwell near sewage and leave untainted.
The example of this is the controversy surrounding McCain's decent performance at the forum. After a coin flip, it was deemed that Obama would go first and McCain would be in a "cone of silence" [Warren's words] until his turn. My observation after viewing much of the exchange online: Obama was mediocre and McCain came off much better than expected. But apparently McCain was still en route to the venue during Obama's time, allowing for the possibility that he might have heard the questions, and giving his detractors plenty of ammunition with which to attack both McCain AND WARREN HIMSELF.
My opinion: Warren didn't lie about thinking McCain was sequestered, trusting that McCain would abide by his word. Now whether or not the McCain campaign actually did this, I can't say. I wouldn't even imagine to try and vouch for them on this issue. But here on Monday, it's a controversy. And I wouldn't be surprised if it led tonight's evening news.
So now, Warren is under scrutiny for something ridiculous, and his church is going to be called to defend him. Despite all the amazing things that he's done for people around the country and around the world, the general public will begin to associate him with helping John McCain look better than Barack Obama— whether it's the truth or not.
Like I've said here before, I love to watch politics. But I observe as if it's a sporting event, not really caring who wins or loses. When the church gets involved in the political arena, there is little chance that anything good can come out of it.
And I prefer not to smell like sewage.