Rick Warren’s Prop 8 Flip-Flop Confuses Even His Own Supporters


It’s not just you and Queerty wondering WTF Rick Warren was thinking when he began insisting he was never against gay marriage — WHEN HE ABSOLUTELY WAS. The pastor has also confused Evangelical leaders, who thought they had Warren in their camp, but now he’s turning all progressive and loving and “let’s all hold hands and make the world a better place,” which is not what Evangelical leaders want. They want the world to be filled with hate for our brothers and sisters!

Despite telling his own congregation he supported the discriminatory measure — “Now let me say this really clearly: We support Proposition 8. And if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues, I come out very clear” — Warren told Larry King “I am not an anti-gay marriage activist. Never have been, never will be.”

What is clear is that Warren is a liar. Even if his “evolved” position is to not hate on civil rights, he absolutely used his platform to advocate hate in the past. Either way, it’s left us bewildered, as well as his allies. Notes the Washington Times:

“I was extremely troubled by the way he appeared to be so anxious to distance himself from the same-sex issue and to make clear he was not an ‘activist’ and that he’d only addressed the issue in a very minor way,” said the Rev. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said his denial is “absolutely baffling.”

“Whether he supports Proposition 8 now, after the fact, is overshadowed by the bizarre claim that he did not say what the evidence so clearly proves he said.”

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  • Wayne

    His church put out a new statement to clarify Warren’s position:

    “Throughout his pastoral ministry spanning nearly 30 years, Pastor Warren has remained committed to the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, for life — a position held by most fellow Evangelical pastors. He has further stressed that for 5,000 years, EVERY culture and EVERY religion has maintained this worldview.” (of course that’s not even close to being historically accurate).

    The church goes on to say Warren was only denying that he was an “activist” and not his video statement (which he refers to as a letter to his congregation). And also says his “apology” to his “gay friends” was about the confusion, not his stance on the issues. Which he maintains he has never waivered from.

  • chadk

    wrt the Esquire brouhaha, Rick Warren really is – let me get this right – a “shit-sniffing faggot”, in the very best and worst senses of those words, of course

  • Richard in DC

    Even if he’s only doing minor back peddling, I think if we can re-brand him as a big gay ally it could do us a lot of good. Rick Warren aside, I don’t believe it is in our best interest to attack those who are newly allied with the gays. They aren’t “Flip-Floppers”, they have merely seen the light, and should be welcomed. We should not make a habit of marginalizing new friends.

  • Alec

    @Richard in DC: No way in hell this guy has seen the light. He didn’t want his image tarnished by being associated with the anti-gay right with the inevitable loss in merchandise sales it would bring with it.

    He sees the writing on the wall. He’s still a snake, just one that’s withholding venom.

  • fern

    What do you expect from these people, Chuck Colson a crook for Nixon, now a crook for God. Next tricky Ricky will found a new church with his partner Ted (P)Haggard he’ll call it the “Saddlefront church” and Larry Craig will be the political adviser.
    Anyway I hear that New Hampshire will join the fold soon, I also have a hunch we’ll be surprised by the California Supreme Court’s decision (I hope). By the way this word faggot, did you know they serve faggots in Britain’s restaurants (meatballs) so when visiting don’t ask for an eraser a rubber will do. (I’m in a good mood).

  • rogue dandelion

    @Richard in DC: how is he an ally, new or otherwise?
    The point here is, the spineless weasel is lying about his role in stripping my community of its rights. He still doesn’t support equal rights, he is simply claiming he was never an activist against equal rights, which is a demonstrable lie.

  • strumpetwindsock

    More like de-fanged, actually.
    I doubt that he’s really changed either, and I’m sure he’s doing this for his own advantage, and he’ll likely cause more trouble in the future.

    I don’t give a shit that he looks like a lying fool to us – I think we knew that already.

    The important thing is what he looks like to his own people. In the first place, his flip flop is going to make others think about doing the same thing. As well, it has made him damaged goods. Are any of the hard-liners in his camp going to ever listen to him seriously again?

  • Elijah

    Tho I disagree with her closing assumption that Stephanapoulos was going to try to discredit Warren as much as the opposite mainstream media meme which I addressed in the AC360 thread—wrongly, AGAIN, perpetuate the idea that it’s OK to agree with the theocratic thugs that it’s right to treat a CIVIL issue like a religious one—Amy Sullivan, at TIME, rips the religious emperor’s clothes off really well:

    “The interview had promised some fireworks, given Warren’s recent conflicting statements about the extent to which he campaigned for the passage of Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state. Now, I don’t want to let the fact that I missed Easter services for the first time in my life to catch and cover the never-was-interview (note to self: buy in-laws DVR) color my opinion about whether Pastor Rick was telling the truth about his exhaustion. But I do think it’s valid to examine why he might not have been completely psyched about going through with an appearance on “This Week.”

    For a man who is arguably the most famous religious leader in the world after the Pope, Warren is surprisingly sloppy when it comes to speaking in public. He acknowledged as much during an April 6 appearance on “Larry King Live,” saying that “Everybody should have 10 percent grace when they say public statements.” But Warren needs more like 50 or 60 percent grace.

    There are two main reasons Warren tends to get himself in trouble when he talks in front of a microphone. The first is that unlike most public figures, he doesn’t carefully script every utterance. In the now-infamous Saddleback video address in which he offers a full-throated endorsement of Prop 8–a video Warren seems genuinely surprised ever became public, despite the fact that it was distributed via email to 30,000 people and posted on his blog at the church’s website–the pastor appears to be speaking off-the-cuff. “You need to support Proposition 8,” he tells the camera. “This is not just a Christian issue; it’s a humanitarian issue.”

    He uses the same winging-it style in the devotions he records on DVD for his new Purpose Driven Connection magazine. Listening to one a few months ago, I was startled to hear Warren recommend that couples whose marriages are on the rocks consider going into heavy credit card debt to pay for therapy. During a time of severe economic collapse. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to hear a public figure speak without any filters. On the other, there’s a reason “Bullworth” was just a movie. Speaking without thinking doesn’t tend to serve people well in real life.

    Warren’s other habit is to do his best to agree with whomever he’s speaking to. I suspect it comes partly from his pastoral experience, but even more from a desire to prove that he’s not one of “those” evangelicals. He wears Hawaiian shirts. He has an easy laugh. He hugs people. A lot. If James Dobson is the Grinch, Rick Warren wants to be Mr. Rogers.

    It’s why when he’s talking to Larry King, Warren mentions his gay friends and says he “never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.” And when he’s talking to Sean Hannity, Warren voices his agreement when the FOX host advocates assassinating the president of Iran. And when he sits down with the Wall St. Journal, he gets downright snarky about Democrats and religious liberals.

    When it comes to gay marriage, Warren dearly wants to be a Southern Baptist who believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman–but also a man whose gay friends understand he’s not intolerant. He appears to have missed the fact that the gap between those two impulses is what the debate over gay marriage is all about. That’s not surprising, though, since as I wrote earlier this year, Warren also “wants to be both the universally admired pastor who speaks to the nation and the influential leader who mobilizes religious conservatives for political ends. But those are two inherently conflicting roles, and he cannot be both, no matter how hard he tries.”

    Proposition 8 is just the most visible and recent example of Warren trying to have things both ways. Eight days before Election Day, Warren was very clear. In fact, he says so in his video message: “Let me say this really clearly: We support Proposition 8. If you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.” After the election, Warren spoke to Beliefnet’s Steven Waldman about his support for the initiative and went even further (watch video here):

    BELIEFNET: What about partnership benefits, in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?

    WARREN: You know, not a problem with me. The issue to me, I’m not opposed to that [some partnership rights] as much as I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

    BELIEFNET: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

    WARREN: Oh I do.Not surprisingly, those were the comments that were pointed to by critics when Warren was asked to offer the invocation at Obama’s Inauguration. Warren didn’t like being called anti-gay–and understandably so. But he is now trying to insist that he never said the things that he did. To Larry King, he complained: “I was asked a question that made it sound like I equated gay marriage with pedophilia or incest, which I absolutely do not believe.” (As you can see in the transcript, Warren brings up the comparisons himself.)

    He also insisted that he is “not an anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist. I never have been, never will be. During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never — never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.” Warren made the same case to Christianity Today: “I never said a word about it until the eight days before the election, and then I did make a video for my own people when they asked, ‘How should we vote on this?’ It was a pastor talking to his own people.”

    That’s kind of like saying that when Obama sends a message to Congress, it’s just a guy talking to his colleagues. Warren has a congregation with 25,000-plus members and a worldwide readership numbering in the tens of millions. If him speaking out on the most controversial issue of the election eight days before people head to the polls, saying “You need to vote for Proposition 8″ does not constitute campaigning or an endorsement, then words have lost their meaning.

    It’s a pretty easy bet that George Stephanopoulos had clips of all these comments cued up and ready to go Sunday morning. Rick Warren is a talented communicator and has inspired millions of people. But in trying to explain or reconcile those contradictory statements, he wasn’t going to be able to wing it. Maybe the mere thought of trying exhausted him.” – Amy Sullivan, TIME

  • Pragmatist

    This really makes me scratch my head and ask (in the most intelligent tone I can muster): “Whaaaa?”

    I really don’t get it. These positions are so inconsistent that there’s no way to resolve them. How could he think that anyone buys this? Is he crazy?

  • sparkle obama

    i am loving this story.
    even the britney spears saga got old for me because i eventually started feeling sorry for her but…
    miss warren promises to be the gift that keeps on giving.
    queerty, please stay on the beat & make rick warren a celebrity.
    he needs camera crews outside his house like lindsay lohan!

  • Jamie

    It’s important to call liars out and not play nice with euphemisms. Thank you for calling this man what he is: a liar. These right-wing Christian leaders want to have it both ways: they want to be able to support and promote bigotry and discriminatory legislation, but don’t want to be considered bigots. It’s our responsibility to call them what they are.

  • gurlene

    @Alec: Thank you Alec.

  • Phoenix (Mild Mannered Transcriptionist By Day, Nelly Freedom Warrior By Night)

    Hmm, I wonder if this means he, Like TeddyBear Haggard, has been caught flagrante delicto?

  • SM~

    @Richard in DC:

    OK…I’m not gay. I’m straight. I also live right down the street from Saddleback Church. I am not a member and I camapigned for No On Prop 8. Before the whole Prop 8 disaster I would read articles praising Rick Warren by gay advocates because he was someone who would listen to your issues and meet you at the table- even if you did not agree.

    As soon as he was invited to the Inauguration, it was War.

    I’m sorry, I camapigned for No On Prop 8 in the Yes Territory of Orange County. It boiled down to the fact we were outcampaigned. I never saw the thousands of protesters down here that came out after the election.

    I also don’t get why you all lashed out at Obama when you all had a letter from him supporting gay marriage. You never used it in the campaign.

    If Obama had been more vocal about gay marriage, it could have cost him Ohio. He is of no help if he is not in the White House. I think the gay community will get Equality faster when they can check their emotions a bit. Learn to fight politics. I’m not sure Obama and Warren are your enemies and lashing out so much makes you look bad.

    Just my straight 2 cents from someone who lived through Prop 8 and changed some religious minds. Rick Warren may never agree on same sex marriage, and his belief is OK…He just can’t force that belief on your Equality and laws. People understand EQUALITY.


  • SM~


    Bah..sorry for the spelling errors. I was multitasking.

    One other thing about Rick Warren. It’s not an excuse but the weekend before the election his daughter in law (I think) had life threatening surgery. He was under a lot of pressure to say something. I just don’t think everything is one dimensional.

    Rick Warren has millions and he gives it away. He is powerful and he will meet you at the table. It is better to have him as a friend despite your differences, especially standing up to the Religious Right. Rick Warren will not cost you Equality, I think the gay community just needs someone to blame. But honestly, they ran a poor campaign and did not go into areas where they were not supported. I saw Prop 8 losing from a mile away and they were offended because they thought a straight girl was telling them what to do.

    Their friend is in the White House. They just don’t know how to play politics~

  • diverdeep7

    Rick Warren Wikipedia War!

    Warren’s not the only one trying to whitewash his former statements on same-sex marriage — his associate Mark Carver, and a Saddleback employee who goes by the username Manutdglory, were banned by Wikipedia after being caught whitewashing Warren’s biography on Wikipedia. Have a look at: or if that URL is too long try this link:

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