Eugene Cho

obama and mccain at the saddleback faith forum

Is there any other country in the world where the first joint forum of the Presidential candidates - even if it was entitled a “faith forum” – would take place at a prominent evangelical megachurch [Saddleback]?

It’s simply amazing…both in good and cautious ways.  But here’s a good quote to explain Saddleback’s decision to pony up the funds [several hundred thousand dollars] to host this event:

…Saddleback’s goal in staging this event is “to restore the church’s primacy in society and not be off on the sidelines, to be a part of the world and all the issues.” He added: “It’s a way to use the platform that God has given Rick and the church to be a leader and bring everyone together, not have the church be over there and separate.”

If you didn’t see the forum on TV, check out the article below from the New York Times and CNN.  Both are really good reads. 

What did you think of the forum – via TV or article?  Apparently, these folks from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church weren’t big fans of the forum - especially Obama.  But they did provide a great classic line in this youtube video:  “…right before he [God] dropkicks your ass into hell forever…”

[link to article] — It was the handshake shown around the country.

At about 9 p.m. Eastern time, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain briefly crossed paths in a rare moment in the presidential campaign (the Senate floor doesn’t count, and besides, neither of them has been there much lately).

Tonight’s encounter, at the Saddleback Valley Community Church, an evangelical Christian mega-church here in Orange County, marks the unofficial opening of the general election and serve as a prequel to the fall debates as the two candidates discuss, although not simultaneously, a range of faith-related, character, leadership and humanitarian issues. Our colleague Michael Luo has more on tonight’s host, the Rev. Rick Warren, here.

Mr. Warren first interviewed Mr. Obama for an hour (with commercial breaks). Afterward, Mr. McCain came on stage. For a brief moment, the two candidates greeted one another, shaking hands. Mr. Obama then left while Mr. McCain began his own hour with Mr. Warren. During Mr. Obama’s session, Mr. McCain was not be able to hear the questions or answers since he was to be asked more or less the same ones. The Reverend Warren joked at the start of the forum that Mr. McCain was in “a cone of silence.”

Mr. Warren asked Mr. Obama which of the sitting Supreme Court justices he would not have appointed. He quickly named Justice Clarence Thomas, saying he was not qualified for the top court at the time.

“I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of the Constitution,” Mr. Obama said.

He also named Justice Antonin Scalia, who he said was a brilliant legal thinker, but whose legal views he does not share. He also recalled that he had voted against the confirmation of John G. Roberts as Chief Justice and said that judgment had been confirmed by a number of Roberts decisions that, Mr. Obama said, improperly expanded executive authority at the expense of Congress and the judiciary.

“One of the most important jobs of the Supreme Court is to guard against the encroachment of the executive branch on the power of the other branches,” Mr. Obama said. “I think he has been a little bit too willing or eager to give an administration, whether mine or George Bush’s, more power than the Constitution originally intended.”

Asked to name an instance in which his thinking had changed over the past 10 years, Mr. Obama cited the 1996 welfare reform bill signed by former President Clinton. He said he opposed the measure at the time because he believed it would have “disastrous results,” denying millions of women economic support without providing them with job training, child care or health benefits. He said he now believes the law has been largely successful.

“It worked a lot better than a lot of people anticipated,” he said. He then added, speaking more broadly, “I am absolutely convinced that we have to have work as the centerpiece of any social policy.”

Asked to define marriage, Mr. Obama said, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” The crowd applauded. “For me as a Christian it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

But he said he opposed a constitutional amendment defining marriage that narrowly, saying the question traditionally had been left to the states. And he also said he supported homosexual civil unions, saying, “For gay partners to visit each other in the hospital I don’t think limits my core beliefs about what marriage is.”

Mr. Warren, who has made millions of dollars on his books, including the best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” asked Mr. Obama to define “rich.”

Mr. Obama responded impishly, “Well, if you’ve got book sales of $25 million . . . ” Mr. Obama, too, has made millions from his books. Mr. Warren reached across the desk and gave Mr. Obama a high five.

The candidate then said that under his tax plans all American families making less than $150,000 a year are considered middle class or poor and would receive a tax break. Families making more than $250,000 a year, the top 3-4 percent of Americans, would would have to pay what he called a “modest” increase in taxes.

“These things are all relative” he said. “I’m not suggesting that everybody making more than $250,000 a year is living on easy street.”

After Mr. Obama was up, it was Mr. McCain’s turn. The Reverend Warren asked Mr. McCain what his greatest moral failure was. Mr. McCain responded that he was an imperfect person and his moral failure was “the failure of my first marriage.”

The church itself rises in the desert and is surrounded by palm trees and dusty mountains, but it’s hard to tell it’s a church. In fact, inside, it looks more like a giant warehouse, than traditional religious sanctuaries.

The hosts are treating this a bit like a major live television event. A woman who was introduced as tonight’s “stage manager,” told the audience to be sure to give Mr. Warren a hearty round of applause when he appears, and to save their bathroom visits for commercial breaks.

The event reflects the importance of religion in American life and, increasingly, in politics. It also marks the coming of age of a broader brand of evangelicalism that is more socially minded and more diverse than the orthodox religious movement of the Christian right.

At center stage is the Rev. Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist pastor and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” who embodies the changing of the guard from traditionalist figures like the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

The two candidates have been lobbing long-distance attacks at each other for weeks now, but any encounter in person here that is less than cordial would come as a surprise. This is not a debate with partisans cheering from the sidelines; it is a sanctuary. Game face is not only not required, it is discouraged.

Mr. Warren, who personally arranged the meeting through cellphone calls to the candidates, both of whom he knows, said in a statement that his conversations would focus on how they make decisions and what kind of leaders they would be.

“Leadership involves far more than promoting programs and making speeches, and since no one can predict what crises will happen over the next four years, it is vital to know the decision capacity and process of each man,” he said. He also said he wanted to avoid “partisan ‘gotcha’ questions that typically produce heat instead of light.”

Mr. Obama has demonstrated a comfort level in religious spheres, while Mr. McCain rarely expresses his religious views in public. Mr. Obama also has an extensive religious outreach program, and polls show that he leads Mr. McCain among many religious denominations, with the notable exception of evangelical Christians.

Reflecting the broad nature of his church’s mission, Mr. Warren raised questions about poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights.

For them, abortion remains a crucial question, and prior to the forum Mr. Warren said indicated that he would raise it. Both candidates have some explaining to do to their political bases — Mr. Obama favors abortion rights but has made statements recently that opened the door to differing views; Mr. McCain, who has long opposed abortion rights, indicated in an interview with The Weekly Standard that he would consider picking a vice president who favors abortion rights.

Mr. Warren, who consulted with several others about the kinds of questions he might ask, also received lots of unsolicited advice from the blogosphere, much of it about abortion. An open letter posted on RedState.com, for example, urged him to ask Mr. Obama about the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which bans the killing of a fetus born with signs of life, whether or not it was born during an abortion. (As a state legislator in Illinois in 2003, Mr. Obama opposed such a ban, saying it was legally flawed.)

Mr. Warren’s ministry has made a name for itself by focusing beyond such issues, to the displeasure of some traditional evangelical Christians who say he is diluting the movement. How much he dwells on abortion tonight could signal the degree to which the movement is changing.

The event is being produced by the church itself because the candidates did not want it to be sponsored by a television network or moderated by a television personality, according to Whitney Kelley, a spokeswoman for the church.

Their other criteria, she said, included that Mr. Warren be the sole questioner, without a panel and without questions from the audience.

The church, the fourth-largest in the country with a membership of 22,000, seats 3,000 people. But it had to rip out 1,000 seats to accommodate the media and its production crews and to provide a security buffer between the audience and the stage, Ms. Kelley said.

The church polled its members to determine whether to charge for the remaining seats to help recoup its costs, expected to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars (just like a presidential debate). The members agreed, and the ticket price was set at $100 each. Ticket preferences were given to charter members of the church, which held its first service in 1980, and to its volunteers; each campaign will also have a block of seats.

But even the $200,000 from ticket sales will “fall short” of the final price tag, said Mark Affleck, executive director of Saddleback’s Peace Plan, a program to help position the Christian church as a leader in relief and developmental work around the world. The church takes in $27 million a year in tithes and offerings.

Mr. Affleck said that Saddleback’s goal in staging this event is “to restore the church’s primacy in society and not be off on the sidelines, to be a part of the world and all the issues.” He added: “It’s a way to use the platform that God has given Rick and the church to be a leader and bring everyone together, not have the church be over there and separate.”

Reflecting the mainstream quality of the event, there will be commercial breaks. Each candidate is to speak for three segments of 11 minutes each and one segment of 12 minutes.

One of those commercials will be from a Christian group, the Matthew 25 Network, which has endorsed Mr. Obama.

And in a taste of things to come, Bob Barr, who is running for president as a libertarian, has protested his exclusion from the event. A federal district court has ruled that the church did not have to let him participate. Mr. Barr is likely to raise the same issue with the commission on presidential debates.

Updated 9:20 p.m.: LAKE FOREST, Calif. — It was the handshake shown around the country.

At about 9 p.m. Eastern time, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain briefly crossed paths in a rare moment in the presidential campaign (the Senate floor doesn’t count, and besides, neither of them has been there much lately).

Tonight’s encounter, at the Saddleback Valley Community Church, an evangelical Christian mega-church here in Orange County, marks the unofficial opening of the general election and serve as a prequel to the fall debates as the two candidates discuss, although not simultaneously, a range of faith-related, character, leadership and humanitarian issues. Our colleague Michael Luo has more on tonight’s host, the Rev. Rick Warren, here.

Mr. Warren first interviewed Mr. Obama for an hour (with commercial breaks). Afterward, Mr. McCain came on stage. For a brief moment, the two candidates greeted one another, shaking hands. Mr. Obama then left while Mr. McCain began his own hour with Mr. Warren. During Mr. Obama’s session, Mr. McCain was not be able to hear the questions or answers since he was to be asked more or less the same ones. The Reverend Warren joked at the start of the forum that Mr. McCain was in “a cone of silence.”

Mr. Warren asked Mr. Obama which of the sitting Supreme Court justices he would not have appointed. He quickly named Justice Clarence Thomas, saying he was not qualified for the top court at the time.

“I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of the Constitution,” Mr. Obama said.

He also named Justice Antonin Scalia, who he said was a brilliant legal thinker, but whose legal views he does not share. He also recalled that he had voted against the confirmation of John G. Roberts as Chief Justice and said that judgment had been confirmed by a number of Roberts decisions that, Mr. Obama said, improperly expanded executive authority at the expense of Congress and the judiciary.

“One of the most important jobs of the Supreme Court is to guard against the encroachment of the executive branch on the power of the other branches,” Mr. Obama said. “I think he has been a little bit too willing or eager to give an administration, whether mine or George Bush’s, more power than the Constitution originally intended.”

Asked to name an instance in which his thinking had changed over the past 10 years, Mr. Obama cited the 1996 welfare reform bill signed by former President Clinton. He said he opposed the measure at the time because he believed it would have “disastrous results,” denying millions of women economic support without providing them with job training, child care or health benefits. He said he now believes the law has been largely successful.

“It worked a lot better than a lot of people anticipated,” he said. He then added, speaking more broadly, “I am absolutely convinced that we have to have work as the centerpiece of any social policy.”

Asked to define marriage, Mr. Obama said, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” The crowd applauded. “For me as a Christian it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

But he said he opposed a constitutional amendment defining marriage that narrowly, saying the question traditionally had been left to the states. And he also said he supported homosexual civil unions, saying, “For gay partners to visit each other in the hospital I don’t think limits my core beliefs about what marriage is.”

Mr. Warren, who has made millions of dollars on his books, including the best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” asked Mr. Obama to define “rich.”

Mr. Obama responded impishly, “Well, if you’ve got book sales of $25 million . . . ” Mr. Obama, too, has made millions from his books. Mr. Warren reached across the desk and gave Mr. Obama a high five.

The candidate then said that under his tax plans all American families making less than $150,000 a year are considered middle class or poor and would receive a tax break. Families making more than $250,000 a year, the top 3-4 percent of Americans, would would have to pay what he called a “modest” increase in taxes.

“These things are all relative” he said. “I’m not suggesting that everybody making more than $250,000 a year is living on easy street.”

After Mr. Obama was up, it was Mr. McCain’s turn. The Reverend Warren asked Mr. McCain what his greatest moral failure was. Mr. McCain responded that he was an imperfect person and his moral failure was “the failure of my first marriage.”

The church itself rises in the desert and is surrounded by palm trees and dusty mountains, but it’s hard to tell it’s a church. In fact, inside, it looks more like a giant warehouse, than traditional religious sanctuaries.

The hosts are treating this a bit like a major live television event. A woman who was introduced as tonight’s “stage manager,” told the audience to be sure to give Mr. Warren a hearty round of applause when he appears, and to save their bathroom visits for commercial breaks.

The event reflects the importance of religion in American life and, increasingly, in politics. It also marks the coming of age of a broader brand of evangelicalism that is more socially minded and more diverse than the orthodox religious movement of the Christian right.

At center stage is the Rev. Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist pastor and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” who embodies the changing of the guard from traditionalist figures like the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

The two candidates have been lobbing long-distance attacks at each other for weeks now, but any encounter in person here that is less than cordial would come as a surprise. This is not a debate with partisans cheering from the sidelines; it is a sanctuary. Game face is not only not required, it is discouraged.

Mr. Warren, who personally arranged the meeting through cellphone calls to the candidates, both of whom he knows, said in a statement that his conversations would focus on how they make decisions and what kind of leaders they would be.

“Leadership involves far more than promoting programs and making speeches, and since no one can predict what crises will happen over the next four years, it is vital to know the decision capacity and process of each man,” he said. He also said he wanted to avoid “partisan ‘gotcha’ questions that typically produce heat instead of light.”

Mr. Obama has demonstrated a comfort level in religious spheres, while Mr. McCain rarely expresses his religious views in public. Mr. Obama also has an extensive religious outreach program, and polls show that he leads Mr. McCain among many religious denominations, with the notable exception of evangelical Christians.

Reflecting the broad nature of his church’s mission, Mr. Warren raised questions about poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights.

For them, abortion remains a crucial question, and prior to the forum Mr. Warren said indicated that he would raise it. Both candidates have some explaining to do to their political bases — Mr. Obama favors abortion rights but has made statements recently that opened the door to differing views; Mr. McCain, who has long opposed abortion rights, indicated in an interview with The Weekly Standard that he would consider picking a vice president who favors abortion rights.

Mr. Warren, who consulted with several others about the kinds of questions he might ask, also received lots of unsolicited advice from the blogosphere, much of it about abortion. An open letter posted on RedState.com, for example, urged him to ask Mr. Obama about the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which bans the killing of a fetus born with signs of life, whether or not it was born during an abortion. (As a state legislator in Illinois in 2003, Mr. Obama opposed such a ban, saying it was legally flawed.)

Mr. Warren’s ministry has made a name for itself by focusing beyond such issues, to the displeasure of some traditional evangelical Christians who say he is diluting the movement. How much he dwells on abortion tonight could signal the degree to which the movement is changing.

The event is being produced by the church itself because the candidates did not want it to be sponsored by a television network or moderated by a television personality, according to Whitney Kelley, a spokeswoman for the church.

Their other criteria, she said, included that Mr. Warren be the sole questioner, without a panel and without questions from the audience.

The church, the fourth-largest in the country with a membership of 22,000, seats 3,000 people. But it had to rip out 1,000 seats to accommodate the media and its production crews and to provide a security buffer between the audience and the stage, Ms. Kelley said.

The church polled its members to determine whether to charge for the remaining seats to help recoup its costs, expected to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars (just like a presidential debate). The members agreed, and the ticket price was set at $100 each. Ticket preferences were given to charter members of the church, which held its first service in 1980, and to its volunteers; each campaign will also have a block of seats.

But even the $200,000 from ticket sales will “fall short” of the final price tag, said Mark Affleck, executive director of Saddleback’s Peace Plan, a program to help position the Christian church as a leader in relief and developmental work around the world. The church takes in $27 million a year in tithes and offerings.

Mr. Affleck said that Saddleback’s goal in staging this event is “to restore the church’s primacy in society and not be off on the sidelines, to be a part of the world and all the issues.” He added: “It’s a way to use the platform that God has given Rick and the church to be a leader and bring everyone together, not have the church be over there and separate.”

Reflecting the mainstream quality of the event, there will be commercial breaks. Each candidate is to speak for three segments of 11 minutes each and one segment of 12 minutes.

One of those commercials will be from a Christian group, the Matthew 25 Network, which has endorsed Mr. Obama.

And in a taste of things to come, Bob Barr, who is running for president as a libertarian, has protested his exclusion from the event. A federal district court has ruled that the church did not have to let him participate. Mr. Barr is likely to raise the same issue with the commission on presidential debates.

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32 Responses

  1. Tyler says:

    At first I was pretty skeptial of Rick and this idea. But as it has panned out and he has shared his thought process I have been greatly encouraged to see evangelicals who care about being open handed and minded when it comes to politics in America.

  2. Sue says:

    I was skeptical as well but thought the forum was great. Good and challenging questions…although I didn’t realize the cost was that high to simply host the forum.

  3. McCunt says:

    Quite long article, soldier.

  4. DK says:

    Those folks at Westboro are CRAZZZZY! That video is scary but hilarious at the same time.

    As for the forum, I didn’t catch it on TV but enjoyed reading the clips. We have two solid candidates and I am again reminded what an incredible country this is that we are able to be freely involved in the political process.

  5. Lila says:

    You forgot to mention that McCain clearly showed he was the man for POTUS. Obama has no experience. His answers were not as decisive.

    I do remember quite clearly when he asked Obama this question.

    “Can you give me an example where you went against party loyalty and personal interest for the good of the country?”
    He worked with McCain on a bill, but he lied. He never followed through on it and McCain wrote him a nasty letter because he decided to play partisan politics. He out and out lied on TV….this is going to set Obama back to Hawaii :) YAY!
    “At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?”

    Uh uh…but but but but…let let let let..that’s above my paygrade.

    ABOVE YOUR PAYGRADE???? WTH?

  6. Tracy says:

    I am not 100% sure if the faith based forum had anything to do with “faith”. What they shared with the pastor and therefore with the world through this forum was nothing insightful about them or their characters.

    The media have already done that for us. I was some what disappointed in the forum. To appreciate the discrepancy in what we know about McCain and Obama, merely look at the coverage of the potential first ladies.(And of course the Pastor plays into that by mentioning Michelle’s name, ugh) We have heard too much indeed about Michelle Obama’s Princeton thesis, her pay raises at the University of Chicago hospital, her statement about being “proud” of her country, etc…..But we still haven’t been inside Cindy McCain’s tax returns, all her multiple homes or private plane. The LA Times reported in June that Hensley & Company, the enormous beer distributorship she controls (i.e Cindy), “lobbies regulatory agencies on alcohol issues that involve public health and safety,” in opposition to groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The McCain campaign told The Times that Mrs. McCain’s future role in her beer empire won’t be revealed before the election.

    Go figure.

    We have allowed Obama to become the media’s commerical pin up politiking john while most christians are praying and hoping McCain’s “maverick image” is the way to integrity and honor in the American’s next president. I am disappointed in the christians vote for McCain without cafeful and prayerful consideration of his lack of mental aptitude to be a chief in command. He frequently forget key elements of policies, he get countries’ names wrong, forgets things he’s said only hours or days before and is frequently just confused.

    Basically, I am still a skeptic of such forums. And I thought the questions where not challenging. I know some non-believers who could have answered those questions with about the same passion and sincerity.

  7. Michelle says:

    I used to attend this church and I received an email from Saddleback which stated the seats were being sold in a lottery draw for church members and cost up to $2000 a seat.

  8. DK says:

    @Michelle:

    So, what’s the scoop on the ticket prices? The article states that tickets were $100/pop. That seems reasonable…anything above would really tick me off.

  9. Gary Hall says:

    Honestly, I was blown away by McCain. His demeanor, answers, humility, and straightforwardness were very apparent. It’s not that Obama did a bad job but nothing really stood out for me.

  10. Wayne Park says:

    haven’t seen it yet but plan to on catch a rerun @ CSpan.

    I think if it works out well (and the brief clip I saw of Warren looked really good) and Warren can bridge the polarization, this could be a huge step in historical evangelicalism…

  11. Independent Thinker says:

    “Above my paygrade” means it is up to God to be the final judge on matters. That is exactly what he meant and exactly right. So that is WTH Lila.

    And Obama’s answers were perfect for the format. Conversational, like having dinner together in the kitchen. If you are so blinded that you could not see McCain’s political stumping last night, then there is no hope. It was very obvious to any independent observer — Obama followed the format; McCain used it as a political pandering medium.

    Period!

  12. Aaron says:

    That youtube video makes me sick…. pretty sad stuff… where is the love, grace, mercy, humility?

    I always wrestle with Church involvement in government. I do not oppose being active in the political process… but I think we have reached a time where the Church looks to use the government to solve the worlds problems… the thought is if we can just get the right politicians in there then everything will work out…

    I find it frustrating, and I am not really sure where I or others are supposed to start… but its the job of Jesus followers and the Church to bring light to a dark world! The way of Jesus was to use those on the bottom, those we least expected… not to use powerful officials…. to do the will of God. So why today do we look to the rich and powerful to bring hope to this world?

  13. Bret says:

    Obama surely didnt see abortion above his grade when he ferociously argues and voted against a ban of live birth abortion while in the state senate.

    Obama surely didnt think abortion was above his pay grade when he promised Planned Parenthood that the “first thing he would do as president would be to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act” at last years Planned Prenthood conference.

    Independent thinker, youre right, God is the FINAL judge of this sin, but that doesnt mean as Christians that we dont rally against the tax funded murder of millions of babies.

  14. Gary Hall says:

    @Bret,

    So, are you voting for Obama?

  15. [...] Eugene Cho talked about Rick Warren’s thought process behind the event. I originally was skeptical of why Warren wanted to implant himself into a hot bed of opinions that this race has become. But as I’ve read about why he desired for the forum to happen I have been quite pleased with his ability to be a great leader for evangelicals. I don’t agree with him in all areas for sure, but I would rather have him “speak” for me than James Dobson. [...]

  16. I think John McCain probably benefited the most from the event by solidifying that evangelical vote. (My evangelical friends were impressed.) I wouldn’t say it was a loss for Obama, though. First, he got the opportunity to again remind voters that he is indeed a Christian. Second, he presented a more nuanced approach to religion and public life…which a lot of us “liberal” Christians have been waiting for.

    I was a little bummed when John McCain was asked, “How are we to respond to evil?” McCain said, “We defeat it!” and the audience roared its approval. He went on to say that he would “chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell” to continued applause. I wasn’t frustrated with McCain’s answer as much as the audience’s response. If the audience was made up of Christians, I would expect them to hold to the position that evil cannot ever be “defeated” by military force, only overcome by good. Seems a little inconsistent with the gospel.

    They also cheered when McCain said, “I think everyone should get rich.”

    Then again, I’ve been reading “Jesus for President” by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, so I’m particularly sensitive to these things right now!

  17. Bret says:

    @Gary

    Unashamed to answer in the negative. I agree with you, I didnt think Obama did that bad at all. If Obama was the only one being interviewed, he did fairly well. But he was just blown out, and overshadowed by McCain. I wonder how it would have gone if Obama would have accepted McCains proposal for a face-to-face format?

  18. jadanzzy says:

    Watching this forum made me lose some more hope in Evangelical America. It seems they bought–hook, line, and sinker–into McCain’s easily swallowable Conservative Christian clichés about faith and politics. I couldn’t see it any other way. The man was a total panderer.

    Barack, to people, may have come off as weaker or even indecisive. How do you blame a guy who wants to THOUGHTFULLY engage the question and talk directly to the pastor? It goes to show how much McCain is just not smart and how much Obama is.

    McCain was there to stump. Barack was there to converse.

  19. McCain was preaching, Obama was teaching–that’s according to talk show host/political commentator Roland S. Martin. I tend to agree with him on that observation. His point being that most people show up at church for the preaching on Sunday as oppose to coming out for the teaching on Wednesday. In actuality, it should be reverse, but that’s just the way it is. It was clear to this careful observer that this was McCain’s show, he brought the hoop,the can I get a witness and the call and response. I twitted on twitter after I saw the forum whose idea was it for Obama to participate in the Saddleback forum. I thought that it was heavily structured to ensure that McCain would come out looking like the golden boy. The danger in a forum like that is the lack of equitable parity. There was no diversity. If you’re going to do a forum; construct it so that it has fair representation ethnically and economically. The moderator Rick Warren was clearly biased, obvious conservative. After all, Obama was in Rick Warren’s mega church which is a largely conservative, pro-life, mostly all-Anglo Republican, evangelical crowd. There was a point in the discussion when McCain was on — that I wondered whether or not McCain received the questions in advance. I think Obama has to check some people in his camp after that. His people are trying to put him in a vacuum the same way, Al Gore’s and John Kerry’s handlers did them, and we see what happened to their presidential hopes. Obama’s campaign is starting to look boring as a result. He’s got to continue to emerge as the candidate who represents true change to this country, and give us glimpses of his obvious intelligence rather than a contrived image, that can be accused of pandering to the evangelical vote-which by the way he’s never gonna get. My take on the Saddleback forum, Obama should have took a pass on that one. In closing, I’m staying close to the fray of other pundits, “Obama was good, but McCain was great!” Come on Obama! Let’s keep it going.

    http://www.reverendlutionary.blogspot.com

  20. Bret says:

    JA,

    In your opinion, since Obama is smart and McCain “is just not”, why didnt Obama capitolize on his intelligence and engage McCain head to head? Why does Obama refuse to do so when McCain has proposed town hall meetings that are not evangelical based forums? You think it would be a great opportunity for Obama.

  21. jd says:

    @Bret,

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t bring Scripture into your comments!

  22. I doubt that the discussion will have much of an effect on anything. Given a choice of a religious/political discussion on a Saturday night in August, most of the relatively few people who were home watching television were tuned to the Olympics. McCain was going to get the conservative evangelical vote, anyway, though he may have boosted his credibility with the folks he once termed “agents of intolerance.” Obama may have countered the ongoing fiction that he is a Muslim, though the people stupid enough to believe that may not be able to figure out how to vote, anyway–and if they do, they weren’t going to vote for Obama.

    Though I am a Christian who teaches at a Christian university, I am a bit troubled that the candidates felt they needed to attend a church-sponsored discussion at all, a further complication of what I see as an often negative relationship between religion and presidential politics. It would bother me less if the candidates felt equally compelled to answer questions from a union leader, a state governor, the mayor of a major American city (New Orleans or New York, perhaps?), a panel of teachers and parents, and a panel of economists.

    And though I think Warren did a decent job, he failed to ask a few questions that I would have in a forum such as this one, such as:

    Catholics who practice birth control or have abortions sometimes are criticized for hypocrisy because they act in opposition to what the pope has professed. Since the leadership of every major religious denomination in the United States opposed the Iraq War, does that suggest hypocrisy among those churchgoers who favored the war–including President Bush and those in Congress?
    What is or should be the role of a church denomination’s leadership, for you and for Christians in general?
    Catholics make up roughly a quarter of the U.S. population, and Jews only about 2 percent. Since five of nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic and two are Jewish, isn’t the court seriously out of balance?
    How do your views of the death penalty correspond with your Christian faith?
    As president, you are expected to represent the entire nation. Name one Muslim and one atheist whom you count among your friends and advisors.
    Discuss your views of evolution and “intelligent design,” and how you feel they should be taught in public schools.

  23. Bret says:

    JA:

    Asking you a question was all, or actually, asking you two.

    “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the pointless discussions and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge. Although some claim to have it, they have abandoned the faith. May grace be with all of you.

    Hope that suffices, may I get your opinion now please?

  24. Anna says:

    when will there be a rerun? I need to see this.

  25. Gina says:

    These false accusations of cheating by the Obama camp just shows what a lack of character these sore losers have. Obama has been getting a free pass from the beginning of the primaries. Obama looked like the rank inexperienced amateur that he is in the Saddleback debate … while McCain looked decisive and competent. The election is only about 70 days from now, and if Obama hasn’t already come up with positions on these crucial questions by now, he is certainly not qualified to be President of the United States. Crying and accusations of cheating because Obama lost the debate, only makes Obama look smaller and less deserving of the office.

  26. JC says:

    Rachel, I am also reading Jesus for President, it makes you think… would a Christian fight, ever? Does love conquor evil in all circumstances. It seems to me that is what Jesus spoke about

  27. 3mily says:

    so, next time there’s a mayoral race in Seattle….

    (seriously!!!)

  28. Daniel says:

    Hmm people are always going to view these things through their own colored glasses. If you support McCain, McCain trashed Obama. If you support Obama, Obama was intelligent and conversational and McCain was a panderer.

  29. Bret says:

    JC:

    Did Jesus tell His discpiles to buy swords?

  30. [...] gunna ‘dropkick your ass into hell’ according to these faithful ones.  Eugene Cho [...]

  31. Derek says:

    2 Timothy 2:14
    14Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

  32. Derek says:

    Let me add on to that:

    2 Timothy 2:24-26

    24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

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Don't rush too soon to the empty tomb. Reflect on the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life & love. Thank you, Jesus, for you have redeemed this day of injustice and violence to be "good." You are truly the Light of the world. #GoodFriday Layover. San Francisco. Having grown up here, my heart still flutters. No other city like it. A quick, busy, & meaningful 26 hrs in Wash DC but managed to go for an hour walk for this view. One of the greatest monuments in the world. A true American hero. #AbrahamLincoln I may stand on different sides on several issues with this man but I'm committed to praying for my President.

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