Several pro-life youth organizations urged Pastor Rick Warren to ask the two major presidential candidates to clarify their views on abortion during his highly-anticipated civic forum on Saturday.
In the open letter, the groups highlighted the "wonderful opportunity" Warren has to help Americans be better informed voters on Election Day.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democrat opponent Barack Obama will appear at Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., on Aug. 16 for a leadership and compassion forum. The two-hour event will be the first joint appearance by the two presumptive presidential nominees.
"Millions of Christians will be watching the upcoming forum at Saddleback, waiting for you to pose questions that will reveal what the candidates truly believe," read the letter from Students for Life of America, Teens for Life, Generations for Life and other groups.
"We ask, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of youth we lead and represent, that you will not ignore the crucial issue of abortion as you face Senators Obama and McCain," they said. "For many Americans, a candidate's position on abortion will determine their vote."
McCain, who has an unbroken pro-life Senate voting record, said this week that he is open to the idea of a running mate who supports abortion rights. His comments Wednesday, which drew the ire of social conservatives, were in reference to former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge's pro-abortion rights view and the possibility of him being McCain's vice president.
In contrast, Obama is a strong proponent of a woman's right to choose an abortion.
"We are the product of a post-Roe v. Wade generation. We have known no other America than the one afflicted by abortion, and we believe the future of America rests upon our country's return to respect for human life," the pro-life youths wrote.
"What kind of America will we have in four years if the truth of the candidates' abortion positions remains in the shadows?"
The students ask Warren, if he chooses to raise the abortion issue, to present the candidates' history on the topic based on facts.
"Ultimately, we understand the decision of whether or not to include abortion in the Saddleback civil forum is one which you alone must make. However, we challenge you to respond to God's call to visit the orphans and widows in their distress by giving the American people the information they need on the crucial issue of abortion," they said.
Coral Ridge Ministries, a Christian media outreach ministry, announced this week that it has also invited Sens. McCain and Obama to meet with its leaders. The ministry wants to inform both candidates what evangelicals are looking for in a president and learn if either candidate "will be that kind of leader."
"We want to let Senators McCain and Obama know that our faith will inform our vote and that we will be watching carefully to see if they will lead America forward according to the standards of God's Word," said Dr. Jerry Newcombe, co-author with CRM's late founder Dr. D. James Kennedy for the book How Would Jesus Vote?.
After the civil forum, Warren will deliver on Aug. 17 a special sermon entitled "Making Up Your Mind: Questions to Consider before the Election."