Rick Warren Clarifies Relationship with Obama

In his first interview since delivering the invocation at President Obama's inauguration, Pastor Rick Warren made clear that he is not a consultant for the president but rather a friend.

"I'm a friend and I'm a prayer partner, but I'm not a consultant," Warren said on CNN's Larry King Live on Monday. "I'm not a pundit. And it's not my role to do that. My role is to help people in their personal lives. I have helped a lot of leaders, both locally and globally, with issues about family and issues about personal stress. That's a pastoral role. I'm a pastor."

Since the inauguration in January, Warren has not spoken with Obama but he believes the new president is doing "the best he can" given the circumstance.

"I think that the deck of cards he was given, no president has been given this in a long, long time, in terms of the crises that he's having to deal with. It is so complex," Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, said. "And it's not going to be solved overnight."

The evangelical pastor also said he believes it's important for Obama to find a church to attend. Obama is reportedly still searching for a home church.

"I think it's important for the public to see our leaders having faith. I think it expresses a sense of humility that says, 'I recognize that I'm not the end all, be all,'" Warren said.

"It's a good sense of humility and a declaration of dependence upon God," he added, noting that he could recommend a dozen good churches in the Washington D.C. area.

"I have a lot of pastor friends of all different styles. You tell me the style you want and I'll tell you a good church in Washington, D.C."

When Obama chose Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, his pick drew wide protest from gay rights activists who criticized Warren for supporting California's Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

In Monday's interview, Warren again stressed that he is neither anti-gay nor an anti-gay marriage activist and has never campaigned for Proposition 8.

Moreover, the issue of homosexuality is not high on his agenda, he said as he declined to comment on the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

While still affirming traditional marriage, Warren told CNN's King that his agenda consists of two things: Rwanda and the spiritual climate of the nation in the midst of a recession.

Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide – a genocide that left some 800,000 dead.

"As you know, I've been heavily involved in Rwanda and helping rebuild that nation and I'm very concerned about that," Warren, who has been working with pastors in Rwanda over the past four years, told King in the interview.

Meanwhile, the economic downturn has led a flood of newcomers to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., which Warren founded.

Last month, Saddleback saw 2,400 people become members and 800 become baptized.

"That's never happened" in Saddleback's 30-year history, Warren said, noting a "spiritual awakening" at his church.

"While people are hurting, people are also searching."

This week, Warren is preparing to hold over 14 services in the Easter weekend. Saddleback Church expects nearly 50,000 people to show up. This Easter also marks the 30th anniversary of Saddleback Church.

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