Rick Warren may have figured all's well that ends well after he apologized and removed a tweet and Facebook post that prominently featured an image of an energetic young Red Army woman, but many say Saddleback Church's Purpose-Driven pastor did not go far enough.
“[D]eleting something doesn't actually address the issue, and the subsequent commenter [sic] by supporters were never addressed,” observes More Than Serving Tea blogger Kathy Khang.
The original offending image was accompanied by Warren joking on Facebook, “The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.”
Some Asian-Americans who apparently “like” the Lake Forest-based preacher's Facebook page gently reminded him of the atrocities and cultural genocide that has been laid at the feet of the Red Army. That is not what produced the apology, as you'll note here:
In case you're as blind as I am:
Khang's reaction to tha and supporters who vehemently defended their Pastor Rick:
Warren's defense (and that of his supporters) is one that I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF HEARING! It goes something like this:
– Don't you know this is a joke? This is funny. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
– I didn't mean to offend you. BUT…Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
– Why are you attacking “fill in the blank with well-intentioned White person's name here”? Don't you know how many people said person's ministry and life's work has touched and brought to faith? Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
– If you are a Christian, show “fill in the blank with well-intentioned White person's name here” some grace. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
– Don't be so politically-correct. Be a Christian first. Don't make this about race. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
Khang then directs readers to “a thoughtful, educational post” on Engage the Pews, which is subtitled “Sam Tsang's preaching blog.”
Of Warren's “It's a joke, people” explanation and the right on, Ricks from his followers, Tsang tapes into his first-hand knowledge of Saddleback Church and writes:
I'm writing this blog because I have a lot more cultural knowledge than Mr. Warren. I happened to be still teaching part-time for Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary, and I fly there at least twice a year. When I was a full-time faculty there, someone from the planning group of HK Saddleback had contacted me (I forgot his name by now but he's a nice bloke.) via Facebook to get my take. Here's my summary of a rather long-winded piece of advice for planting a Saddleback in HK, “If you do not know the cultural history, political climate, and ministerial context of HK, do not plant. If you plan on just having an English-speaking ministry serving the upper middle class expat community, do not plant. There're plenty of churches doing that. If you don't plan on having locally trained pastors on your staff that lead the ministry to Chinese, do not plant.” The irony of all this is that shortly after the opening of the HK Saddleback, we have this Facebook update. This single update shows that Mr. Warren hardly has any idea of what the picture truly represents. Sadly, it also proves my original advice to be spot on. HK Saddleback website doesn't even have Chinese. It's like me coming to America to reach English-speakers with a Chinese website.
That obviously got Warren's attention, because he posted an apology in the comments to Tsang's blog:
What's funny is, if you scroll past some of the comments from Asian-Americans who still do not believe Warren went far enough in his apology, you'll find some from Saddlebackers who say they initially did not get what the big deal was (just like Pastor Rick) but now they understand and are sorry (just like Pastor Rick).
Let he who casts the first tweet and all that.