Pastor Rick Warren refuted a recent claim made by Congressman Frank Wolf that he has been silent on religious persecution. He told The Christian Post that he and his church have championed the cause for years.
"Please don't be hard on my friend, Rep. Frank Wolf. He's simply uninformed about Saddleback Church's ministry and strong voice on religious persecution – both internationally and nationally," he said in a statement emailed to CP.
"No one could accurately accuse me of being silent on this issue. It's one of my passions!"
The Southern California pastor was responding to Wolf's statement last week that churches and pastors in the West are not speaking out about persecution against Christians and other religious minorities in Asia and the Middle East.
During an interview with radio show host Janet Mefferd, Wolf (R-Va.), a champion of human rights, stated, "I just have a hard time wondering why more in the West are not speaking out.
"Where are the (Dietrich) Bonhoeffers (20th century German Lutheran pastor)? Where's Rick Warren? Where's John Piper? Where are the people? Why aren't they speaking out on this?"
Warren acknowledged Wolf as a "great Christian" and "needed Congressman" and stated that the Virginia rep. was simply misinformed.
"For years, Saddleback's Justice Task Force, made up of our attorneys, law enforcement officers, judges, etc., has championed this cause. I often preach about persecution and religious liberty, and we've had many special guest speakers on this subject, too," Warren stated, mentioning that Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, was one such speaker.
He also noted that Saddleback Church created the Civil Forum on Religious Persecution and that Dr. Carl Moeller, who led persecution ministry Open Doors USA for nine years, was previously a Saddleback pastor.
"Our church, having sent 16,800 of our members overseas through our P.E.A.C.E. Plan to serve in 196 countries, is a leader in the fight for religious freedom," he highlighted.
"In January 2013, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will join me in another Saddleback Civil Forum on Religious Liberty, and just this morning I met the State Department's Ambassador of International Religious Freedom at a home here in California."
Additionally, Warren maintained that he regularly tweets about religious persecution to his 774,000 followers.
Wolf has been pushing for a special envoy at the State Department that would focus exclusively on the plight of religious minorities in South Central Asia and the Middle East. While his legislation (H.R. 440) passed in the House last year, it has been on hold in the Senate.