Evangelicals condemn attacks on Obama’s faith, but Warren remains silent

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

A group of leading evangelical preachers — including television pastor T.D. Jakes and Kirbyjon Caldwell, a spiritual adviser to George W. Bush — has released a letter condemning "misrepresentations" of President Obama's faith.

"We are deeply troubled by the recent questioning of President Obama's faith. We understand that these are contentious times, but the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for public debate," the letter reads. "Obama has been unwavering in confessing Christ as Lord and has spoken often about the importance of his Christian faith.  Many of the signees on this letter have prayed and worshipped with this President.  We believe that questioning, and especially misrepresenting, the faith of a confessing believer goes too far."

The letter, signed by more than 70 pastors and other Christian leaders, calls on the media and other public officials to offer "no further airtime" or attention to those who suggest Obama is a Muslim, not a Christian. The reaction comes after a recent Pew poll found that nearly 1 American in 5 believes Obama is Muslim — an increase over a year ago.

Still, CBN's David Brody noticed one prominent evangelical who hasn't spoken up in Obama's defense: Rick Warren, the founder of Saddleback Church, and author of the best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life."

Warren's relationship with Obama dates back to 2006, when Warren invited the then-senator to speak at a conference at his church. During the '08 campaign, Obama and John McCain appeared at a spiritual forum with Warren. And the pastor was later invited to give a prayer during Obama's presidential inaugural ceremony.

Asked about the Muslim flap, Warren, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

Obama's critics aren't likely to give up on questioning his religion. Echoing an email that's been making the rounds of conservative activists, Cliff Kincaid at the conservative watchdog group Accuracy in Media asks for proof that Obama was actually baptized in the Christian faith.

(Photo of Obama and Warren by Richard Vogel/AP)