The first edition of our textbook includes a photograph of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren at an event with Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. The second edition won't have an equivalent photo for 2012, as The Orange County Register explains:
Rick Warren, Saddleback Church's pastor, announced Wednesday that a civil forum planned with President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the church has been canceled because of what Warren saw as uncivil discourse between the two campaigns.
The forum, planned for this week, would have been two hours long, with each candidate speaking with Warren for 50 minutes. The event would have fallen during the same week when four years ago Warren hosted the first such presidential campaign forum, between then-Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain. Warren said it was the 2008 forum's success among critics and pundits that led him to consider the idea again this year.
In an interview with the Register, Warren gave a few more details on his recent decision.
Q. You said you canceled the presidential civil forum because of the negativity and a larger issue. What is that?
A. It is the crumbling of our constitution's first guaranteed freedom: the freedom of religion. This issue is more significant and has far greater implications for America's future. People have forgotten that America was founded by people who came here to escape religious persecution. Freedom of religion is the first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights - before freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and every other freedom.
And yet today, at the city, the state, and the federal levels, government bureaucrats are daily trying to limit that freedom, impose restrictions, and stifle expressions of faith on campuses, in hospitals, and in businesses. There are widespread attempts to redefine the First Amendment to simply mean "You are free to believe anything at your place of worship but you are not free to practice your conscience elsewhere."
The constitution doesn't just guarantee your freedom to worship; it guarantees you freedom from government intervention in you daily living out what you believe. That's why we've chosen to host a civil forum on religious freedom in September instead of the presidential forum. It's a fight for the constitution, not a personality.