Rick Warren: "You Don't Have To See Eye To Eye To Walk Hand In Hand"

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Under fire for opposing gay marriage, influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Saturday that he loves Muslims, people of other religions, Republicans and Democrats, and he also loves "gays and straights."

The 54-year-old pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California told the crowd of 500 that it's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything all the time.

"You don't have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand," said Warren.

Warren also defended President-elect Barack Obama's invitation that he give the invocation at the Jan. 20 inauguration in the keynote speech he delivered at the Muslim Public Affairs Council's annual convention in Long Beach.

Obama's choice of Warren earlier this week sparked outcry from gay rights and other liberal groups, who said choosing such an outspoken opponent of gay marriage was tantamount to endorsing bigotry.

"Three years ago I took enormous heat for inviting Barack Obama to my church because some of his views don't agree (with mine)," he said. "Now he's invited me."

Warren said he prays for the same things for Obama that he prays for himself: integrity, humility and generosity.

Obama defended his choice on Thursday, saying that he has also invited Joseph Lowery, a Methodist minister and civil rights leader who supports same-sex marriage and gay rights, to deliver the benediction.

"During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that's how it should be, because that's what America's about. That's part of the magic of this country ... we are diverse and noisy and opinionated," Obama said.

Toward the end of his speech on Saturday, Warren also talked about singer Melissa Ethridge, who performed earlier in the evening. Warren said the two had a "wonderful conversation" and that he is a huge fan who has all her albums.

The openly lesbian gay rights activist even agreed to sign her Christmas album for him, he said.

Warren gained a prominent role in the presidential election in August when he hosted the Civil Forum on the Presidency, a two-hour televised show in which he interviewed Obama and his Republican opponent John McCain for an hour each on faith and moral issues.

Warren has won kudos from some liberal quarters by focusing less on traditional conservative issues such as abortion and gay rights, and instead calling on evangelical leaders to devote more attention to eradicating poverty, fighting AIDS in Africa, expanding educational opportunity for the marginalized, and global warming.

But the preacher ignited the ire of many liberals when he publicly supported California's Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Although Warren has said that he has nothing personally against gays, he has condemned same-sex marriage.

"I have many gay friends. I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church," he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet. But later in the interview, he compared the "redefinition of marriage" to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy.

Warren founded Saddleback Church in 1980 in Lake Forest, about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous Christian books, including "The Purpose Driven Church," which has sold more than 20 million copies.

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  • by Rob Location: NC on Dec 28, 2008 at 07:49 PM
    Warren is another of these bible thumping, neoconservative religious zealots much like T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen that make so glad I'm an atheist.
  • by wr Location: nc on Dec 22, 2008 at 11:19 AM
    Go ahead and bash Rick Warren but I believe he has brought Christ into more lives than you.I may not agree with all he believes or says but his methods work.I have watched many lives changed using the Purpose Driven style.I havn't changed the seed just the way its planted.I will continue to reach out to the unchurch with passion. I was called to catch fish and let God do the cleaning. My job is to get them close to God so he can do the work in them.I know you you think i have sold out because I don't wear a tie or sing hyms from the 1800s but my congregation has 25 new members since September and we are Pro Life, against gay lifestyles, and most of my congregation didn't vote for Obama. Why did no one get upset when Billy Graham ,whom I also admire, was ask to pray?
  • by $$$ Location: NC on Dec 22, 2008 at 02:34 AM
    Wait! Melissa Etherage's Christmas album?
  • by CT Location: Williamston on Dec 21, 2008 at 10:49 PM
    He's as phony as barack. Birds of a feather....
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Dec 21, 2008 at 08:07 PM
    Blog Refluter, there is only one truth, varying opinions may give you a thrill but rarely are varying opinions flush with the Bible. The opinion that homosexuality or homosexual marriage is in any way acceptable to God is falacy. Like it or not the Bible sets standards for our conduct and beliefs. The Bible is clear, those who adopt lifestyles that are contrary to God's standards will not get the salvation that they seek even if they claim to be Christian. Those who abide in the ones who adopt sinful lifestyles will be rejected as well. Claiming to be Christian does not make you a Christian. Rick Warren is a feel-good Christian who could end up with an eternity to hang out with die hard homosexuals and obama if he isn't careful.
  • by C on Dec 21, 2008 at 06:59 PM
    For Ebenezer: YES ! I completely agree with you; far too many pastors have thrown the Bible out in favor of Warren's book..and NO book should be held up in place of God's Word. Anyhow, another point: Have you noticed how society at large tries so very hard to not offend gays, muslims, and so-called "minorities", all in the name of political correctness ? However,it's perfectly OKAY to offend Christians, conservatives, police officers and the military . Just thought I'd make that the observation.
  • by Blog Refuter Location: NC on Dec 21, 2008 at 04:50 PM
    I think it's a great idea to have two ministers with varying opinions.
  • by Joe Stroud on Dec 21, 2008 at 04:21 PM
    I still want the country rover job.
  • by bandanaman247 Location: pamlico beach on Dec 21, 2008 at 02:40 PM
    he might not have to see eye to eye ..but you can bet i do because the way i see it now days you better look at whos hand you're holding because if youre living where i am it just might be a crackheads hand youre holding...THANKS BUT NO THANKS
  • by Ebenezer Location: Fuquay Varina on Dec 21, 2008 at 01:45 PM
    Rick Warren is a wishy-washy, flip-floppy, mealy-mouthed, straddle-the-fence sell-out who has betrayed the trust of evangelical Christians across the land. People, you should have known better than to trust "The Rick" ... and as for all you preachers who have sold your congregations down the "Purpose-Driven" road ... you'd better repent and get back to the bible, if you want to avoid losing your prize. Rick is a reed in the wind ... tossed like the waves of the sea. Mark the man, and mark his words.

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