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Statement by Saddleback Valley Community Church Regarding Senator Barack Obama as One of Nearly 60 Featured Speakers at the Second Annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church

Contact: Larry Ross,  972-267-1111 x210, alr@alarryross.com; Kristin Cole, 972-267-1111 x215, kristin@alarryross.com


LAKE FOREST, Calif., Nov. 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- Beginning tomorrow, Saddleback Church will host the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church. As far as we know, this is the only conference focused on how the Church should respond to this global pandemic that has already infected 40 million people. To-date, more than 25 million have died, leaving 16 million orphans in Africa alone.


There will be nearly 60 speakers at the Summit from every walk of life – including medicine, science, the church and government – who are authoritative experts actively engaged in a leadership capacity in the response to HIV/AIDS.


Two of the participants, U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan), represent two different political perspectives.


Though he is not a keynote speaker, Purpose Driven and Saddleback Church are acutely aware of the strong opposition to Democratic Senator Barack Obama being one of many featured participants on the program.


While knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, the speakers at the Summit do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Saddleback Church, its pastoral leadership or the congregation. As a result, we're not making an endorsement of Obama or any of the other speakers. Rather by coming to Saddleback, the Summit speakers are affirming and supporting the vital role of the Church in fighting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.


In fact, the following disclaimer is printed at the front of the Summit syllabus: "We do not endorse everything every speaker might say. With nearly 60 speakers representing different backgrounds and expertise, you'll undoubtedly hear statements you disagree with. We will, too. Each speaker represents himself or herself, not Saddleback Church or the Purpose Driven Network."


Obama was invited to share his views on AIDS, not abortion or any other issue. And he is not speaking to the Saddleback congregation, but rather to a conference comprised of ministry leaders, social workers and health professionals all gathered to focus on this one topic – the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Let it be made very clear that Pastor Warren and Saddleback Church completely disagree with Obama's views on abortion and other positions he has taken, and have told him so in a public meeting on Capitol Hill.


Anyone who has read The Purpose Driven Life, specifically chapters two and 22, knows the Warrens are staunchly pro-life, because it's the biblical position. In a letter to all pastors in the Purpose Driven network before the 2004 election, Pastor Warren called this one of the five non-negotiable moral issues, writing, "God's purpose for your life precedes your birth, according to Psalm 139, so abortion short-circuits God's purpose for that human being. To be truly pro-life means far more than opposing abortion. It also means doing everything in our power to keep people alive, so they might respond to the grace of Jesus Christ. Sometimes that means working with people you disagree with. With AIDS killing 8,000 people a day, saving lives is more important to us than political alignment."


The speaker roster for the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church includes representatives from health organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), humanitarian/relief efforts and ministries. Participants at the Summit will include Republicans and Democrats, Christians and non-Christians, pastors, business leaders and leaders from around the world, including the Harvard professor who did the landmark studies on abstinence and faithfulness to one's spouse as the best prevention against AIDS.


Kay Warren and Pastor Rick Warren will speak four times, including: "How God Got Our Attention," "What Your Church Can Do," "The Global PEACE Plan" and "Because Of Love." Rick Warren will share what it will take to S.T.O.P. the pandemic, including important controversial, but biblical behavioral elements: S-Save sex for marriage; T-Train men to treat women and children with respect; O-Offer treatment through churches; P-Pledge yourself to one partner for life.


Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other. We do not expect all participants in the Summit discussion to agree with all of our Evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by Evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all – government, business, NGOs and the church. That is the purpose of this Summit – to marshal the policy of the government; the finances of business; the expertise of the health organizations; and the compassion, volunteerism and reach of the church in order to care for the sick and save lives.