Television viewers who tuned into ABC on Sunday morning expecting to hear Pastor Rick Warren clarify his controversial remarks surrounding Proposition 8 instead watched a segment on the hostage standoff between the U.S. Navy and Somalia pirates.
"This Week" host George Stephanopoulos told viewers at the beginning of the show that "the pastor's representatives canceled moments before the scheduled interview, saying that Mr. Warren was sick from exhaustion."
"We hope he recovers quickly," said Stephanopoulos before turning the attention over to coverage of the pirates hostage situation.
A spokesperson for the evangelical pastor cited "fatigue and exhaustion" as the reason for his cancellation. Warren's interview, according to an e-mail sent to Politico.com, was scheduled to be taped on Saturday.
For Easter weekend, Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., was offering 23 Easter services starting Thursday. Warren delivered his Easter sermon "The day that changed the world" Thursday and Friday but awoke ill Saturday morning, a Warren aide told Politico.com. The "Purpose Driven Life" author was also unable to preach at half of the services that were scheduled to take place Sunday.
The cancellation led many in the blogosphere to speculate whether Warren was trying to avoid further controversy stemming from his comments on Proposition 8, California's constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman.
But the Warren aide said his cancellations were related to health and fatigue. "I was looking forward to the opportunity for him to clarify his position," the aide said.
Last week, Warren told CNN's Larry King that he "never once" campaigned in support for the measure.
"I am not an anti-gay- or anti-gay-marriage activist. Never have been, never will be. During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never-never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going."
Many news outlets took Warren's comments as a denial against his former support for the marriage amendment. Before the November election, Warren had released a video statement urging his Saddleback flock to support Proposition 8.
"Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 - and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear," said Warren in the video, which was e-mailed to subscribers of his "News & Views" newsletter.
In an interview with Christianity Today International, Warren said he made the video in response to people in his congregation asking him how they should vote on Proposition 8.
"It was a pastor talking to his own people," Warren told CTI a day after the CNN interview. "I've never said anything about it since. I don't know how you take one video newsletter to your own church and turn that into, all of a sudden I'm the poster boy for anti-gay marriage."
Saddleback spokeswoman Kristin Cole also clarified last week to CBN News that Warren firmly believes in the biblical view of marriage but does not see his role as a campaign activist.
"When Dr. Warren told Larry King that he never campaigned for California's Proposition 8, he was referring to not participating in the official two-year organized advocacy effort specific to the ballot initiative in that state, based on his focus and leadership on other compassion issues," Cole said.
David Brody, White House Correspondent of Christian Broadcasting Network News, defended Warren on Monday against critics who might have thought that Warren's cancellation "makes it look like he's running scared."
"I can tell you that Pastor Warren has no desire to be pigeonholed as the anti-gay religious right guy on the right," said Brody, who said he has interviewed the pastor in-depth before. "His mission revolves around the Church and how it can be used for good in the World."
Brody, who writes at "The Brody File" for CBN News, said the recent controversy will probably prompt Warren to "be much more careful about how and when he does interviews in the future."