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.
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.