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17 Dec 2008

Divorce, a bigger threat to the family than gay marriage: celebrity preacher

Rick Warren, the prominent pastor of California's largest evangelical Christian megachurch, chided religious conservatives for harping on gay marriage instead of divorce.

Rick Warren, one of America's leading evangelical pastors, has come under fire by members of the evangelical Christian community in online forums for saying he thinks divorce to be a bigger threat to the family than gay marriage.

Rick Warren (right), pastor of Saddleback Church, California's largest church tells Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman that he thinks divorce is a bigger threat to the family than gay marriage.
The founding pastor of California's largest church - the 23,000 member Saddleback Church - was asked the question by Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman. Beliefnet is a multi-faith web site owned by News Corporation's Fox Entertainment Group.

"That's a no brainer. Divorce. There's no doubt about it." Warren, who was once dubbed "arguably the most influential pastor in America" by The Economist, laughed and declared in the interview released this week.

"Here's an interesting thing. The divorce statistics are quite bandied around. People say half the marriages end in divorce. That's just not true. Forty percent of first time marriages end in divorce. About 61 percent of second time marriages end in divorce and 75 percent of third time marriages end in divorce. So the odds get worse and what's balancing this out... when you hear 50 percent end in divorce, that's just not true. The majority of marriages do last..." Said the author of The Purpose-Driven Life which sold more than 30 million copies worldwide since 2002; the bestselling nonfiction hardcover book in history.

When asked why religious conservatives tend to harp on gay marriage rather than divorce as a threat to the family, Warren said: "Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? Why do we hear more about anything else than about wasting time or gossip? We want to point that my sins are perfectly acceptable. Your sins are hideous and evil."

In a clarification to a question he was asked about his support for proposition 8 in California following the interview, he said that although he believes that no American should ever be discriminated against because of their beliefs, he doesn't consider civil unions (for same-sex couples) to be a civil right.

"Nowhere in the constitution can you find the 'right' to claim that any loving relationship identical to marriage. It's just not there."

When asked specifically, Warren said he supports "partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation," but went on to say that he's opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to "having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage," "an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage" and "one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

Update: CNN's Anderson Cooper moderates a fiery discussion between Hilary Rosen, Roland Martin and Robert Zimmerman about anti-gay pastor Rick Warren being picked for the Invocation at the Obama Inauguration (Dec 17, 2008)

Reader's Comments

1. 2008-12-17 20:15  
While there are many challenges in doing so, the absolute greatest thing we can do as individuals to fight ignorance and bigotry, and to empower understanding of our community, is for each of us to tell our personal stories to our friends, families, co-workers and greater communities - expressing the truth of our lives to the people we can influence.

Of course, there are many obstacles that keep many people from coming out, which I respect, but for those of us who can come out and tell our stories, the time is always now!

Nicholas Snow
PositiveLove on Fridae.com
Founder, www.ActionEqualsLife.com
Comment #2 was deleted by its author
3. 2008-12-18 00:10  
At last, an evangelical that doesn't seem unhealthily obsessed with homosexuals, and looks at heterosexual behaviour as being the blindingly obvious factor in the success or otherwise of heterosexual marriage.

He seems to be saying that this obsession with gays is to deflect attention away from straight people's own responsibility for their own marriages and behaviour. In other words they're using gays as scapegoats.

There's an additional way scapegoats are used. It's a common policy of extremist groups to fasten on to certain classes of people (Jews, gypsies, gays etc.) who are seen as "other", and can easily be demonised, lied about, and persecuted, in order to bring cohesion to their own particular group, cult, or political party:- unity through hatred. Is this is what certain religious groups are doing with gays? Exploiting the prejudice and using us as a rallying cry for their own benefit?

In the last few days, in the online Straits Times of Singapore I've seen incitement to hatred that would probably face prosecution in the West, and in Singapore too if it had been racially motivated. Three or four very aggressive Focus on the Family supporters (they quoted from FOTF co-group "reports"), ganging up like wolves on anyone that dared to support or sympathise with gay people, and spreading insidious misinformation and propaganda about gays in general. They characterised us amongst other things as serial killers, naturally violent, zoo-philes and paedophiles. Ring any bells? These are also the things the German Nazis said in their propaganda against the Jews. I can only wonder where they are learning these tactics.

Let's hope people do their research about FOTF, before deciding to let anyone in their family near them.

4. 2008-12-18 07:01  
Doesn't matter which religion defines marriage as whatever... it is a civil right; church and state should be separated!

Next time we shall vote for fat pastors to be putting a clean image to his/her followers: fat person poses bad image and it threatens the health of greater community!
5. 2008-12-18 08:46  
the culture wars continue, although Rich Warren and I don't see eye to eye on matters, I respect his opinions and his right to disagree, the biggest problem is that the discourse and debate over gay marriage is getting way out of the realm of decency and spirited, logical debate. Attacking each other and calling each other names is bad and tacky whether you are a Christian evangelical or a gay activist. Hate is hateful tactics are the wrong avenue to pursue. Shame on those people that torched Sarah Palin's church just cause their is normal disagreement on this topic. Can't we all just show grace, good manners, proper discourse and just get along. I doubt if both sides with ever see eye to eye so just respect each others differences and take a born again Christian out for a drink this week and let them know they have nothing to fear . ..! To be honest I think we create our own troubles, I think if we just ignored Focus on the Family and don't even write about them, they will fall by the wayside just because their message is so dull. Don't even give them any more press or a minute of attention. The best way to fight ignorance is to achieve something on your own right and not bring other people down. Be a person of class and achievement.
6. 2008-12-18 14:38  
At last a preacher daring to state the bloody obvious:

Heterosexuals in their vastly superior numbers having all kinds of fancy and weird weddings with rosy promises of being together forever -- and then fighting over dividing the furniture within a matter of months.

Heterosexuals in their vastly superior numbers constantly indulging in rape, including that of minors, then labeling the relatively small gay community as pedophiles, rapists and animal sex lovers.

Heterosexual teachers in their vastly superior numbers molesting their students in large numbers, then labeling all gay teachers pedophiles and unfit to be around children.

Heterosexual parents in their vastly superior numbers abusing their own children physically and mentally, and then labeling gay people as unfit to be parents.

Heterosexual men in their vastly superior numbers relentlessly engaged in sexual harassment of women everywhere including in the armed forces, then condemning gay people as dangerous to be around.

The list of lies and hypocrisy is endless. It's time the gay community took every opportunity to point it out. Stop taking their lies lying down.
7. 2008-12-18 20:37  
Lagunabro, Sarah Palin has many enemies in Alaska, such as old-style republicans she has been pursuing for corruption, people she got fired from their jobs etc etc., I think the gays are way down the list, so let's not jump to conclusions pending investigation. But shame on whoever did it and whatever their motivation; in any case it's backfired as she's back in the news, having been otherwise forgotten already.

As for ignoring propaganda and hate mail in the press, I think that's dangerous. In the past you've said you're part Jewish: surely you're aware of the lessons of history. People should respond with reason and fact, and point out when reports quoted by people who support organisations like FOTF have been faked by sister organisations; all people have to do is google the author.

But as positivelove suggests, maybe the best way to dispel myths is for those who are able to, to come out to friends and family.
8. 2008-12-18 23:45  
I just heard this Rick Warren has been asked to deliver the Invocation at the US Presidential Inauguration next month. An interesting choice...gay groups seem upset, but it may be helpful in the long run; maybe that's why he's cooling down the anti gay rhetoric. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.
9. 2008-12-19 06:42  
Actually the religious fundamentalist are propagators of many outlandish myths in their continued bashing. It will be a great day in the US when these lobbyists are "taxed" as others are and have to list thier members in a registry and declare how much money they spend on buying politicians.
Comment #10 was deleted by its author
Comment #11 was deleted by its author
12. 2008-12-22 00:34  
Can you believe this Warren is now trying to use Darwin's theories on natural selection against the gay community! The Church using their sworn enemy against their other sworn enemies!

Here's an interview with Larry King where Warren makes some very half-assed remarks on Darwin's theory.

Warren puts this question to Larry King: "How can you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution and in homosexuality at the same time?"

Warren's understanding of Darwin's theory is that because gay people don't reproduce, any "gay genes" would have been taken out of the gene pool over time and become extinct. Therefore homosexuality is not natural. (He implies that being gay is a deliberate choice.) The guy even has the gall to say, "We all have instincts, urges, desires, but it doesn't necessarily mean that I fulfil all of them. For example, I might want to have sex with a hundred women, but doesn't mean I do it..."

Here's Darwin's answer to Warren's question. (You can use it to smack these guys across the mouth if they fling this question at you.)

I quote from "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin, Chapter 4 - Natural Selection:

"Variations neither useful nor injurious would NOT be affected by natural selection, and would be left a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in the species called polymorphic."

That's what Darwin says. And it makes perfect sense.

Homosexuality would obviously be one such "variation" that made no difference to the ability of the species to survive physically.

Darwin's theory is about physical variations taking place in species in order to adapt to the environment for physical survival. It would be obvious to you and me that someone's ability to escape from a tiger or to hunt or grow food for survival would have nothing to do with their sexual orientation. But poor Warren doesn't get that.

This might look trivial and laughable, but it's not. There are a lot of morons out there who read nothing but the Black Book of Hate, and who would be taking Warren at his word. Even Larry King obviously has no clue on this. So, this kind of BS is very dangerous for the gay community, as it convinces everyone that being gay must be a "choice" (a problem that we further compound by our queer ideas of gay "pride"). Now, how do we get people to understand Darwin's theory properly in order to counter these haters?
13. 2008-12-22 14:37  
Well, anyway, I did my good deed for the day: just wrote to Larry King at CNN explaining all this. He should be better prepared next time, and should also be in a position to let his viewers have some real information on Darwin's theory (apart from that it was "blasphemy".)
14. 2008-12-30 16:54  
LOL...gotta love those Evengelicals.
First they came up with the now infamous ex-gay therapy which leads to the even more infamous Focus on the Family cult.
It failed horribly, as the entire world witnessed.
Now with George Bush gone for good, they're hit hard with the reality that Christian evengelism will eventually lose the stronghold of support they've enjoyed during his d-i-c-khead administration years.
So they've changed tack & in an apparent reconcilatory tone, recommended people to focus on their own sins instead of pointing fingers.
Ah, such graciousness, Mr Warren.
Two-headed (political) snakes pfft

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