The Corner

Rick Warren Schools President Obama on Freedom

On This Week yesterday, Jake Tapper (who makes a great host for that show) interviewed Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren. Tapper played an economic gospel according to President Obama. POTUS said:

I believe in God’s command to love thy neighbor as thyself. And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills, to shoulder the burden alone.

Asked if the President is “right,” Warren said:

Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor. There’s over 2,000 verses in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of “fairness.” Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.

The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You rob them of dignity. The primary purpose of government is to keep the peace, protect the citizens, provide opportunity. And when we start getting into all kinds of other things, I think we invite greater control. And I’m fundamentally about freedom. You know the first freedom in America is actually the freedom of religion. It’s not the second, third, fourth or fifth.

I’m thinking the president probably wishes he picked a different pastor for the inaugural prayer.

#more#(Sam Gregg had some reflective thoughts on the president’s recent “brother’s keeper” rhetoric here.)

About that first freedom, Tapper asked about the presidential “accommodation.” (It still irks me that this administration thinks religious freedom is something to simply be accommodated, but at least they are transparent about that radical view.) Warren didn’t given this administration an inch.

Tapper asked:

How are you with what they called an “accommodation?” Were you OK with that, or no?

Warren responded:

Well, no I’m not. But the issue here is not about women’s health. There’s a greater principle and that is do you have a right to decide what your faith practices? Now I don’t have a problem with contraception. I’m a Protestant. I’m an evangelical. But I do support my Catholic brothers and sisters who believe what they want to believe.

He stands with Cardinal Dolan and others because it is nothing short of the religious freedom of all Americans that they have taken a stand to protect. This debate is misunderstood, too, if it is seen only as Cardinal Dolan fighting for the right of dioceses to offer insurance that keeps consciences clear. He is fighting for the Catholic business owner who wants to keep his clear, too, as he operates in our economy. (Do read that March 14 statement from the bishops’ conference, “United for Religious Freedom,” if you have not. And/or George Weigel’s analysis of it.) And this conscience thing is not just a Catholic thing. When we start eroding religious liberty, it is not just Catholics who will be affected. 


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