Rick Warren, the pastor of the gigantic Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA., has individually invited both John McCain and Barack Obama to meet at a forum at his megachurch before the Democratic and Republican conventions. Since the campaigns began, McCain and Obama have never been on the same stage together, but now they have a chance to court evangelical voters. Rick Warren is best known for his book, The Purpose Driven Life, which was a NYTimes best seller and a book of wide appeal well beyond the evangelical sub-culture. In this forum they will be discussing Rick Warren's primary foci: AIDS, poverty, and the environment. I've noted a heightened interest in these social areas among Evangelicals before, areas which in the past have been primarily associated on the Democratic platform. So, Rick Warren has done what no one else has: brought the two candidates together to discuss side-by-side their views on these crucial global issues.
This, by the way, comes on the heels of James Dobson, from "Focus on the Family," of doing a 180 and suggesting that he will probably do something he thought he would never do: support McCain, the latter of whom has had a huge struggle with Evangelical voters. I do applaud Rick Warren for keeping things balanced (unlike Dobson), giving Evangelical voters (and everyone else--I hope this is televised in some way) an equal view of each candidate on issues that seem to be falling through the cracks at the moment.
See the New York Times article here.