By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com August 23 2012 1:34 PM ET
Evangelical pastor Rick Warren has canceled his Civil Forum between presidential candidates, saying it's because the campaign is anything but civil — but then attacking President Obama for a war on religion.
Warren, who used Twitter to cheer on Chick-fil-A customers during Appreciation Day, told The Orange County Register that Obama is participating in "the crumbling of our Constitution's first guaranteed freedom: the freedom of religion."
So Warren has decided to replace the popular presidential forum he hosted during the 2008 cycle with a summit of interdenominational faith leaders to confront what he sees as government interference in religion.
"There are widespread attempts to redefine the First Amendment to simply mean, 'You are free to believe anything at your place of worship but you are not free to practice your conscience elsewhere,'" Warren told the newspaper. "The Constitution doesn't just guarantee your freedom to worship; it guarantees you freedom from government intervention in your daily living out what you believe."
Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church in California, never said what specifically the government or Obama was doing to suppress religious freedom. He is the author of best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life, and he delivered the invocation at Obama’s inauguration in 2009 over the objection of LGBT activists. Warren campaigned for passage of Proposition 8 in California in 2008 and has since repeatedly made clear he opposes marriage equality.
A tweet during the so-called Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day organized by Mike Huckabee had Warren rooting for people on the West Coast to drive up sales. The pastor claimed Chick-fil-A's president had called him with good news: "@DanCathy just called me. #ChickFilA has already set a world record today, with 7 more hrs to go in the West."
The tweet was passed around Facebook and shared by blogs but later disappeared from Warren's timeline.
Many of the Chick-fil-A customers that day claimed to be protesting for First Amendment rights and religious freedom. They were reacting to LGBT activists' call for a boycott of the fast-food chain because of Cathy's "guilty as charged" comment when asked about his company's history of antigay actions. Chick-fil-A has so far donated about $5 million to antigay organizations, including those that attempt to turn gay people straight.