Rick Warren Addresses Islamic Group

on July 8, 2009

Rebekah Sharpe
July 8, 2009

On July 4, California megachurch pastor and best selling author Rick Warren told thousands of American Muslims Muslims that he’s not interested in “interfaith dialogue” but he is interested in “interfaith projects.”

On the evening of Independence Day, in a session billed as the cornerstone of their annual convention, the Islamic Society of North America hosted Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, as its speaker. In a message meant to outline Warren’s ideas about how the Muslim and Christian communities can work together, he explained: “I am not interested in interfaith dialogue; I am interested in interfaith projects” because “Love is something that we do together.”

Noting that Muslims make up 1 billion of earth’s people and Christians 2 billion, Warren said that “as half the world we have to do something” to model what it means to live in peace and harmony.

Addressing what he called the “tensions” between the Muslim and Christian communities, Warren suggested, “Friends, they are not going to be solved by mere tolerance. People don’t want to be tolerated they want to be treated with respect and dignity, they want to be valued.” In light of that desire, he stated, “We need to join together—I call on you—to create some kind of coalition to end stereotyping.”

Secondly, said Warren, Christians and Muslims should “work together to restore civility to civilization.” He added, “Just because you disagree with somebody does not give you the right to demonize them.” But also acknowledged that real differences existed between people of varying beliefs. In America, Warren explained, “The right to believe anything does not mean that to believe everything is right.” He warned his audience, “You’ll get criticized, and so will I,” because “it’s easiest to be an extremist of any kind because then you only have one group of people mad at you.” Together, people of faith should “challenge the conventional wisdom [of] political correctness” that says “if you disagree with an idea you are intolerant, you hate them.”

Promoting freedom was the third vital task for the two faiths, Warren said, “particularly the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.” He warned, “Freedom is eventually lost to either license or political correctness or fear [for] security” if people did not remain persistently vigilant over it.

Finally, Warren named five “global giants”—conflict, corruption, poverty, disease, and illiteracy—that Muslims and Christians were called to struggle against. Relaying a story of how churches and mosques in Rwanda joined together to provide lay healthcare training, Warren said that “some problems are so big you have to team tackle them.”

Though Warren mentioned that his “deepest faith is in Jesus Christ,” the speech focused mostly on the relationship between Muslims and Christians in civil society, and not on his faith. More than 8,000 Islamic audience members packed the hall to hear Warren and others speak. The convention was ISNA’s 46th, patriotically dubbed “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and brought an estimated 30,000 Muslims to the nation’s capital over the July 4th holiday.

No comments yet

The work of IRD is made possible by your generous contributions.

Receive expert analysis in your inbox.