By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Antiabortion groups are assailing one of the nation's most influential evangelicals, the Rev. Rick Warren, for inviting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to speak at a conference on HIV/AIDS at his Southern California megachurch this weekend.
In a statement, 18 antiabortion leaders called on Warren to rescind the invitation because Obama supports keeping abortion legal.
"You cannot fight one evil while justifying another," says the appeal, whose signers include Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, Judie Brown of the American Life League and Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association.
Warren, author of the bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life," responded yesterday by asserting that he and his wife, Kay, are "staunchly pro-life" and "completely disagree" with Obama's position in favor of abortion rights.
Obama was one of 60 speakers invited to "share his views on AIDS, not abortion or any other issue," the Warrens said in a statement issued by their Saddleback Valley Community Church. They added that Obama and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) will "present two different political perspectives" at the weekend "Summit on AIDS and the Church."
"Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other," the Warrens' statement said. "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."
A spokesman for Obama said he has no intention of withdrawing from the conference, where he is expected to take a public HIV test.
"While we will never see eye-to-eye on all issues, surely we can come together with one voice to honor the entirety of Christ's teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met," a statement from the senator said.