(Photo: REUTERS/Mark Avery)
Evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren recently stated that President Barack Obama has "infringed" upon religious freedom in America.
The pastor of California-based Saddleback Church made these remarks to the Huffington Post, saying that Obama is "absolutely" unfriendly to religion and his administration's policies have "intentionally infringed upon religious liberties."
In an interview with Marc Lamont Hill of Huff Post Live on Wednesday, Warren took issue with the contraception mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year.
"I believe … you should have a right to be able to practice your belief without the government forcing you to do something different," said Warren. "If they made a law where you got to sell contraception if you're Catholic, well then how about a law to Jewish Rabbis that says you have to sell pork in every deli?"
Warren also talked about a bill in San Francisco that would ban circumcision, to which the pastor warned that it could eventually lead to the banning of baptism.
In 2008, Warren hosted both then Democratic candidate Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a "Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency."
For his Inauguration in 2009, President-elect Barack Obama tapped Warren to give the invocation prayer, much to the chagrin of many liberal pundits. In a statement, Warren commended Obama for his "courage" on the issue.
"I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony," said Warren.
"Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America."
Warren had attempted to hold a similar "Civil Forum" for the 2012 presidential candidates, however the forum was canceled over an apparent lack of civility.
"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," said Warren in an interview with the Orange County Register.
"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."
Warren gave the interview as part of the promotion for the tenth anniversary of his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life.