February 6, 2008 in Nation/World

Megachurch pastor broadens agenda

The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Warren
(Full-size photo)

Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor and philanthropist who is courted by political leaders worldwide, says Christianity needs a “second Reformation” that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be “about deeds, not creeds.”

Speaking Tuesday to a group of Washington Post reporters and editors, the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said he had an “epiphany” in recent years due to his wife’s battle with cancer and the success of his book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has sold more than 25 million copies. Humbled and scared, he said he decided to focus on helping the needy and the sick, particularly those with AIDS. That meant advocating for a broader agenda for evangelicals beyond same-sex marriage and bioethical issues like abortion and stem cell research. That’s a shift from the e-mail Warren sent before the 2004 election to his regular distribution list of 136,000 pastors, telling them to focus on those hot-button issues, which he called “non-negotiables.”

Warren said he now regrets that e-mail – not because he’s changed his views in opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, but because he places them on a longer list of priorities.

Now, he says, he wants to promote personal responsibility and restore civility in American culture. “I just think we’re becoming too rude,” he said. “You have no right to demonize someone just because you disagree with them.”

Changing the culture, he said, is not done only through politics but also through things like art, music and sports.

Topeka, Kan.

Court halts release of doctor’s records

The Kansas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a grand jury Tuesday from obtaining patient records from a physician who is one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions.

The grand jury is investigating whether Dr. George Tiller has broken Kansas laws restricting abortion, as many abortion opponents allege. The grand jury subpoenaed the medical files of about 2,000 women, including some who decided against having abortions.

Abortion opponents forced Sedgwick County to convene the grand jury by submitting petitions, the second such citizen investigation since 2006 of Tiller, who has long been a focus of the nation’s abortion battle. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and eight years later a woman shot him in both arms.

Tiller’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to quash the grand jury’s subpoenas, and the court agreed to block their enforcement until it considers the issue.

Chief Justice Kay McFarland said Tiller’s challenge raised “significant issues” about patients’ privacy and a grand jury’s power to subpoena records.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email