Rick Warren cancels the Obama-Romney forum at Saddleback

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, has cancelled the planned civil forum with President Barack Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney. This would have been the second such forum following the Obama-John McCain meeting prior to 2008’s election.

Rick Warren cancels civil forum at Saddleback Church

Senator John McCain (l), Rick Warren (c), and Barack Obama in 2008.

The reason for the cancellation, according to the Orange County Register, is “uncivil discourse between the two campaigns.”

Warren is quoted as saying,

The forum was praised for its unique format and fairness. Also, the TV networks were eager to cover it again since it garnered one of the largest viewing audiences of that election. I talked with both campaigns about the possibility of doing it again, and they were both favorable to participating.


We created the civil forums to promote civility and personal respect between people with major differences. The forums are meant to be a place where people of goodwill can seriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable or resorting to personal attack and name-calling. But that is not the climate of today’s campaign. I’ve never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don’t expect that tone to change before the election.


It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day.

Saddleback has hosted seven civil forums, the most recent featuring former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • Warren’s not being completely honest here. He’s cancelling b/c neither campaign was willing to attend (for a number of reasons!)

    • Marty Duren

      Was that in the rest of the press conference? The article only says, “Requests for comment from both campaigns have not been returned as of early afternoon.”

  • This makes no sense. Perhaps common ground could have been found that night. Do we not engage in peacemaking because the history has been war? What if something good happened? Isn’t that the point? Warren should have had it anyway, if they were willing. If they were not, like Aaron says, then that should have been the story, not Saddleback cancelling. As it is, it looks like Warren is sitting in judgment and rejecting both instead of offering to broker peace for the good of the American people. That is a strange decision, in my opinion.

    • Really Robin

      It is not the church’s job to be involved in politics, or issues at this level. The church’s job is to spread the gospel, the true, unwatered down gospel. The pastor’s job is to lead and feed the flock the LORD has appointed to him. It is not to assert himself, or his church, into the limelight on these types of things.

  • Sheri

    Why would Warren even feel the need to “not be completely honest”? If neither campaign wanted to attend wouldn’t he just say that?