I was very disappointed to find out today that Pastor Rick Warren's second attempt at a presidential forum was canceled
. Now, I'm not a Christian and I'm not a religious person. It's fine for others, but it's not my bag. The reason I want to be sure I say this is to add weight to my disappointment in this forum not happening again.
During the 2008 presidential race I watched Pastor Warren's forum (I talked about it at the start of this post
). It was a good Q&A. I was looking forward to hearing about this year's forum and tuning in when it happened. Unfortunately, the first news I hear about it is that it's not happening. Of course, there seem to be questions as to "why" it's not happening.
Pastor Warren is saying one thing, and the Obama and Romney camps are saying something different. Pastor Warren told the Orange County Register
, "It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day." You know what? I agree. If he believes that to be the case, I find value in that. The funny thing is that I also believe the statements from the Romney and Obama camps when they say they weren't interested. Things have changed a lot since the 2008 presidential election run. The forum may not be as advantageous for either ticket.
As most of you probably remember, back in 2008 a bunch of idiotic tools believed that Obama was actually secretly a Muslim and not a Christian (not that it should have mattered to any sane individual). While the true whack-jobs wouldn't have their minds changed, an opportunity for Obama to discuss his personal faith in such a forum was very advantageous for him in regards to those that had concerns (for whatever reason), be it his "true" faith or just his views on it. This year's forum probably would have had more difficult questions for him, especially from Pastor Warren.
A while back there was a big push back against elements of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because the ACA stated that employers had to follow certain expectations about how contraception costs are covered for employees. The bishops were concerned that following the ACA would result in them breaking moral law for their faith (PolitiFact article on the situation
). Basically, that element of the ACA resulted in an overreach of government. I believe that the bishops were right in being concerned. The Obama administration created a compromise
. Of course, that's not enough for some...but that's a different discussion. The additional piece of THIS discussion is that Pastor Warren aligned himself with the bishops
. Now, while Obama's administration may have created a compromise I personally believe a question about the situation would be valid, and I think the Obama administration is fully aware that right now there are people that are attempting to demonize Obama when it comes to religious freedoms. Obama not attending a forum this year would likely save him more grief than garner him more favor.
Now, you may be wondering why Romney wouldn't want to attend such a forum. Well, there are two possibilities in my mind. The first is that Romney is Mormon, and while Mormon's consider themselves Christians, not all non-Mormon Christians share that view. So, certain questions that have answers specific to Mormonism might not resonate well with Christians watching the forum. However, I think that would have been a relatively small impact. The bigger issue for Romney attending the forum would have come from whom he has chosen as his running mate, Paul Ryan.
You know that little run-in I brought up earlier between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Obama's administration? Well, it turns out the bishops also took issue with Ryan's budget proposals
earlier this year. Yeah, those guys are busy. Not only that, Ryan upset a group of nuns with his budget proposals
. A Catholic saying his religion's teachings are part of the makeup of his budget plan being chastised by two groups within his church (one a MAJOR influence)? That's not good. That's also something that in my eyes would be a fair question for Romney to face if a forum with Pastor Warren had occurred. I don't think it would have gone well for Romney.
In my mind these are all pieces to why there will be no Saddleback presidential forum this year. I think Pastor Warren is right in that one night of civility would seem disingenuous and hypocritical. Why would he want to connect himself with that? I also think that as a whole both the Obama and Romney tickets could have faced painful questions. After all, if you walk into a faith-based forum, you better be able to take on faith-based questions for your ticket. And let's face it, when it comes to faith and religion in this election year...it's a serious double-edged sword. Kind of funny considering how much some candidates (in a variety of positions) have worked to use it for their favor. Overall though, I'm disappointed FOR Pastor Warren while I'm disappointed IN Romney and Obama.
If you didn't see the previous forum from 2008 I found out that Obama's camp put up the video in its entirety. At least it's supposed to be the full thing. I didn't watch it again. Anyway, here it is if you're interested.