Pastor Rick Warren admitted on CNN on Thursday that Evangelical churches are at least partly responsible for some of the negative attitudes towards gay and lesbian people.
Appearing on Starting Point to promote an updated version of his book, A Purpose Driven Life, Warren reiterated his opposition to recognizing same-sex couples. But asked about the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi — who committed suicide after his roommate broadcast a video of him with another man — the pastor said that Jesus teaches Christians not to “hate anybody” and admitted that some churches fall short of this responsibility:
JOHN BERMAN (HOST): [Tyler Clementi’s] parents wrote that they left their Evangelical church recently because they felt the beliefs on homosexuality estranged them from their son, which meant he could not come to them. His mother said this, she said, ‘at this point, I think Jesus is more about reconciliation and love. He spoke more about divorce than homosexuality, but you can be divorced and join a church more than you can be gay and join churches.’
WARREN: Very good point. You know, Jesus taught, as a Christian, I am not allowed to hate anybody. I’m not allowed to do that. In fact, I am commanded by Jesus Christ to love everyone, to show respect to everyone. There’s a difference between acceptance and approval. God accepts me, accepts you unconditionally. He doesn’t approve of everything we do.
BERMAN: But pastor, don’t you think some of our churches are responsible for some of the attitudes towards gays in America, the negative attitudes?
WARREN: Probably, yeah. In fact, there are some people who are extremely violent or hateful. And hate is never of God, never.
On Wednesday, during an interview with HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill, Warren attempted to downplay his endorsement for Proposition 8, California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, claiming that he intended to communicate his private support to church members and was not trying to take a “public” position on the issue. Warren expressed regret for ever backing the measure, though that hasn’t stopped him from dismissing gay and lesbian relationships.
Earlier this week, Warren said that acting on same-sex attractions is no different from “punching a guy in the nose” or consuming arsenic.