Rick Warren bails on ABC's "This Week"

Caught in a lie about his Prop. 8 activism, the ambitious megapastor is "sick with exhaustion."

Published April 12, 2009 5:13PM (EDT)

On Easter Sunday it's wrong to revel in the misfortune of others. It's wrong most days, but feels especially wrong today. So I'm saying a prayer for Saddleback Church megapastor Rick Warren, who had to cancel at the last minute on ABC's "This Week." Just minutes before the show began, his staff informed host George Stephanopolous that the pastor is "sick with exhaustion." (h/t Pam Spaulding.)

Of course it's hard not to link Warren's sudden disappearance to the firestorm over his claim, on CNN's "Larry King Live," that he had never campaigned for California's Prop. 8, which abolished gay marriage. It wasn't difficult to immediately find press statements and even video featuring Warren touting  the measure. I don't know what Warren was thinking. Gay leaders and Christian right leaders pounced on Warren's obvious lie.

People I respect, like Alan Wolfe, believe Warren represents an important departure from a right-wing evangelical Christianity that preaches simplistic and scapegoating answers to issues like gay rights and abortion; I only think he differs in degree. But it's possible that Warren's "exhaustion" represents a genuine internal torment over his inability to choose sides -- Christian love, acceptance and inclusion vs. the Christian-right politics of fire, brimstone and derision -- and the political power that has accrued to right-wing leaders who demonize.

I have seen Warren as very much an old style religious leader who was more enthralled with  political power than healing our divided political culture. Maybe he's having a crisis of conscience. On Easter Sunday, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he comes through his "exhaustion" better able to live his values, whatever they really are.

By Joan Walsh

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