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December 8, 2006

Rick Warren
Saddleback Church
1 Saddleback Parkway
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Fax: (949) 609-8002

Dear Pastor Warren,

I appreciated what you had to say today on the FamilyLife Today radio program about how your book teaches that God has a plan for unborn children even while they are in the womb. God's plan for unborn babies and their mothers is the heart of the "Pregnancy Evangelism" method we have developed here over the past two decades.

But I was shocked to hear you say that 40 million children have been killed by abortion and 40 million people are dying of AIDS, therefore the abortion holocaust is no more important than the AIDS epidemic. I would like to hope that neither you nor Kay realize how deceptive these statistics are.

The fact that the abortion statistic relates to only our own country while the AIDS statistic is worldwide seems obvious to me. But of course, honest statistics disprove your point: if you compare the number of AIDS deaths in the United States to the number of abortion deaths, you see that deaths from abortion exceed deaths from AIDS by 100 times! (Actually the abortion holocaust is far worse than these statistics reveal, because these statistics relate only to surgical abortions and ignore the vast number of chemical abortions.)

As a Christian brother, I regret that I find it necessary to point out this serious error to you. Words matter, as you know, and the false message you proclaimed so proudly today demands correction. I hope I can expect you to issue a quick public response to this on FamilyLife Today and to also reply to me in writing. If you choose to ignore this letter or to refuse to acknowledge your sin, you will make it necessary for me to go to the next step of Matthew 18 (although according to Paul’s example in Galatians 2:11-14 and other places, public rebuke is appropriate for public sins).

It is absurd for a Christian to proclaim that AIDS is as important as abortion. Most of the people who are suffering from AIDS in our nation have heard the Gospel and rejected it (and many proclaim themselves to be Christians while flaunting their disobedience to God’s Word). We do have a scriptural responsibility toward people with AIDS, but in most cases Ezekiel 33 is more urgently relevant to them than John 3:16.

For over 20 years, God has used our family to save women and children from abortion, so I am not ashamed to say that I truly believe that any honest scriptural analysis of the society we live in today should lead Christians to the conclusion that Jesus would want His Church to make saving women and children from abortion a priority (even higher than ministering to people with AIDS, which should not be ignored).

As Bob said on yesterday's FamilyLife Today program, Jesus told us that when we minister to the “least of these” we are actually ministering to Him (Matthew 25:40,45). Who is more disposable, less significant to our selfish culture than the unborn child? (Certainly people with AIDS also need ministry, but it seems obvious to me that a focus on the “least of these” requires us to put a higher priority on abortion victims than AIDS victims.) Pastors should focus on saving children from abortion, because Jesus said that the “good shepherd” focuses on the life of the one vulnerable sheep whose life hangs in the balance, even if he must temporarily turn away from the needs of the 99 sheep in the fold to do so (Matthew 18:12).

Ministering to one pregnant woman gives us the opportunity to permanently impact the lives of at least two people. The child's physical life and the woman's spiritual life and health both hang in the balance, and any delay in providing help may cause permanent, irreversible pain to both mother and child.

Abortion is a life-and-death issue, not just a "sin" issue. (Sometimes the baby isn't the only one who dies. I have knelt at the grave of a woman who died from abortion.) Churches should consider life-and-death needs to be a higher priority than transient needs. (Of course, I recognize the fact that AIDS is also a "life-and-death" issue.)

But even if the woman survives her abortion, the day that a woman chooses abortion will be a key milestone of her life, for better or for worse. She will never forget it. Even if she refuses our help and aborts her baby, we have the opportunity to turn this crisis into an everlasting memory of Christ's love, or into a memory of the Church's apathy. We have found that a woman who aborts her child may be particularly bitter toward "pro-life Christians," looking at them as hypocrites because they were not there to try to stop her even though they claim to oppose abortion. Because you speak out against abortion but seem to do little to oppose abortion, you may be fueling bitterness in these women.

Abortion is the modern embodiment of one of the primary satanic agendas the devil has employed since the beginning of time. The devil has always had schemes to try to steal away the heavenly seeds God has planted. If we are serious about spiritual warfare, we must respond to these attacks which have blinded God’s people throughout the ages. Jesus said that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but He comes to bring Life (John 10:9-10). Our Lord's position in modern abortion dilemmas is obvious. He stands on the side of Life, for mother and baby.

But do Christian churches today stand on the side of life? Most churches say they oppose abortion, but faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Anti-abortion rhetoric without anti-abortion ministry is dead.

The way we respond to the needs of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our community is a measure of our character. As Christians, we do need to reach out in love to homosexuals and people with AIDS. But love alone is not enough! We must speak the truth in love or our imbalanced message will lead many down the road to death. (Sadly we see many Christians who believe a love-without-truth Gospel going in to abort their little gifts from God, proclaiming "God is a loving God, and He will forgive me.") A major denomination recently proclaimed that "infants and toddlers are the lifeblood of the future" for their churches. The devil is using abortion to drain the lifeblood of the future from our churches. Our own little boys and girls, those who would be sitting in the pews next to us in a few years, are being torn apart every day. HIV and AIDS may also affect some of God's people, but abortion impacts every church.

Yes, it's true that "we can't stop abortion until we change people's hearts." But too often God's people use this line as an excuse to do nothing. God wants to use us to help change people's hearts, one at a time, as we proclaim the Gospel of Life.

I apologize for making this letter so long, but my heart is burdened for people like you who should be proclaiming the truth but who have been deceived into promoting a lie. There is much more I can share; if you would like to read more about why (and how) the Church should stand against abortion, I would be happy to send you a free copy of my book, God’s Plan: Transforming the Gates of Hell into the Gates of Heaven.

I look forward to receiving an honest, repentant response from you. If you decide to ignore this letter, I do intend to make it publically available soon, to try in some small way to work against the blatant satanic deception you fell into - when I believe that you are ordained by God with a message of Life! Hopefully this will not become an opportunity to teach people "how to lie with statistics," but hopefully it will become a positive opportunity for you to model the way Christians should respond when they fall into error.

In Christ's service for those who cannot speak for themselves,
Tim Palmquist

NOTE: This letter was sent to Rick Warren on LifeSavers Ministries letterhead. A similar letter was sent to Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife Today. Merle Engle of FamilyLife Today responded by posting a small note in the program archives on their website, but after several conversations he refused to seek any further remedies.

At our request, a pastor whose church is in the same county as Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and who is in the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention (Saddleback's denomination), wrote Rick Warren a second letter asking him to respond to this issue. The pastor's letter was also apparently ignored.

Pastor Warren returned to FamilyLife Today a few months later without making any correction or any mention of the incident.

We waited over 11 months before finally making this information public, after it became clear that FamilyLife would no longer respond to our correspondence.

The note posted on the FamilyLife website can be seen by searching their broadcast archives for the 12/8/2006 FamilyLife Today broadcast. You can also hear the original broadcast at this link. If you have trouble accessing the information from the FamilyLife site, you can read the text of their note below:
A Note From FamilyLife: During this program, Pastor Warren juxtaposes the number of people dying from AIDS worldwide with the number of children who have died over the past 30 years in the US from abortion. As some of you have pointed out, the comparison is flawed. His point that Christians should care and should work on behalf of both the unborn and for those who have AIDS was overshadowed for some by the comparison between the death toll in the US from abortion and the current rate of AIDS infection worldwide. FamilyLife Today regrets the use of this comparison in this broadcast.

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