Rick Warren gets backlash from Asian American Christians for posting photo

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Rick Warren Posted that Saddleback's Hong Kong campus starts Oct. 8.

Rick Warren Posted that Saddleback's Hong Kong campus starts Oct. 8.

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"People often miss irony on the Internet. It's a joke people! If you take this seriously, you really shouldn't be following me!" megachurch pastor Rick Warren initially posted in a Facebook comment.

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  • Washington Zucker

    SOME (NOT ALL) WHITES seem to have harbored RACIAL DISCRIMINATION as part of ORIGINAL SIN, which they have to deal with using their own CROSSES
    to DENY their OLD SELVES, FLESH, and SINFUL NATURE ! LEADERS included, Rick Warren no exception !

  • Earold Gunter

    Mr. Zucker, Your statement against racism, which only includes ‘whites”, although you were kind enough to exclude all “whites”, is made up of the very same racial discrimination of which you speak against. Look inward my friend.
    Consider living life, and loving people, without the promise of a carrot, or the threat of the stick.
    Good day!

  • michael tang

    If Rick Warren is willing to give a public apology, it is east to deal with. As a leader, it is not about how many great things he have done, rather it is to about accept his failures and face it.

    It seems like, that he hides himself like a coward. It is a man called himself as a servant of God, i doubt that!

  • Having just read Warren’s latest attempt at an apology to us AA Christians, am I the only person who thinks it sounds a lot like the faux kind, eg, “I’m sorry if some of you took offense to what I did or said,” rather than a real apology, eg, “Regardless of what I was trying to accomplish, it’s been brought to my attention that using that image–in fact, my using that comparison with the zeal and dedication of Mao’s Red Guard as a shining example for how Christians should follow Jesus since 2005–was more than culturally insensitive. It was wrong for me to usurp this painful part of another people’s history and reframe it for my own purposes. Those who defended my actions were also wrong to do so, for what I did and said, I now clearly see were indefensible. Please forgive me.”

  • Brett Lawrence

    That was my initial reaction as well, but then when I re-read it, I noticed that he specifically remarked, “by my insensitivity,” which seems to suggest a recognition that he was in the wrong. Still, it borders on the vague or ambiguous, when this situation calls for to-the-point clarity.

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  • sam tsang

    Perhaps Mr. Zucker’s comment is based on his experience. It would do no good to say ALL people have tendency to discriminate when they are ignorant or something like that. He’s just saying some white people because in this case, it was a white person. I wont call Pastor Rick a racist because i think he’s much better than that but his usage of the image has racial implication and his followers’ reaction demonstrate part of the truth Mr Zucker just stated. When i first looked at all the responses, it was not a shock, but the positive responses are mostly from white folks. Well, I don’t know what to say about that. I’m not racist. I think Asians can be racist also, but this is not what we’re talking about in this event though, are we?

  • Linda McMillan

    I am just gobsmacked that anyone would post something like that in the first place. I despair over the state of Christianity… I really do.

    He has to apologize on the same site he posted to. That’s the rule.

  • Martin

    We Cuban-Americans have gotten used to cultural insensitivity from fellow citizens. It’s sad and shocking when it occurs, but it is all too common.

    I understand why Asian-Americans have taken offense at the use of Red Guard propaganda. Cuban-Americans see communist tyrants such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara being idolized by some of our political leaders as well as American and European pop culture and our voices of protest are often ignored.

    I hope and pray that the Red Guard and other totalitarian idols will be smashed once and for all in our society. In the meantime, we who have suffered at the hands of communism must continue to raise our voices.

  • Joanna Chen Bryant

    Yes! If he had said that, I might have more respect for him than I do now.

  • Dr. Kurming Hu

    WE don’t believe in any preachers, we only trust in our LORD-JESUS.

    Some preachers get used to stand in front of large group of people to speak.
    Subconscientiously they become the gods and get carried away without
    any intentions to understand or explore the cultures they don’t know.

    Red guard or army is never a part of our history in this group
    Chinese. Most of the Americans have the poor knowledge to tell the
    differences among the Chinese from different parts of the world. They
    may tend to think the Red Guard was part of the bad experience in the
    whole Chinese.

    It is same that very few of us understand the Muslim people, it is
    easy for us to make criticism on them.

    I personally do not like Rick Warren, he thinks he is a God. His
    apology is made “if you think that YOU ARE OFFENDED.” If you are not
    offended, then he is not making an apology, because you don’t care.

    No matter what the sins we have obeserved in others or committed
    ourselves, they will never be the excuses that we should not trust in

    Otherwise we will lose the great opportunity to be saved by JESUSand
    share His amazing GRACE which is offered to every one of US!

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  • David

    What ever happened to forgiveness? I can see non Christians sticking to the hurt and prejudices of a “picture” posted, but the Pastor has since asked for forgiveness.

    Do we as Christians hold on to grudges and tell the world that certain misgivings are more serious to some of us?

    This is an insult to those Christians who are being persecuted for their belief in Christ and are having to endure untold pain and hardship, those that being torched and imprisoned and tortured for the sake of their faith.

  • Grubendol

    I remember at a dance convention I once mistakenly said a Japanese word to a Korean girl who had rotated to me in the class. It wasn’t that I thought she was Japanese (if asked, I honestly would have guessed Filipino), but I took some very intense Japanese language courses in college and some of it replaced previously English-language instincts.

    But the girl looked up at me with this incredibly furious expression, and said “I’m not Japanese! I’m Korean, and just so you know, culturally, Korean people hate Japanese people.”

    She then demanded an apology for “my racism.” I was flabbergasted. Eorold’s point, in other words, is that racism is not a ‘white’ phenomenon. Right now yes, we’re talking about a white man making an (accidentally) racist joke (for which he has apologized). But honestly, on average, I run into racism much more often -from- Asian people than -to- them, particularly towards the African American population and other Asian groups. Koreans hate Japanese people (probably mostly because of WWII, at this point). Japanese manga depicts Koreans as small-eyed and usually evil. China and Japan have been on the rocks for centuries (afaik the Chinese words for “pirate” and “Japanese” are the same word). Taiwanese people often get extremely offended if they are mistaken for Chinese people (which happens often, for obvious reasons).

    To pass off the issue as a “white” issue is just absurd.

  • Sarah Leard

    People put pictures up on the net. They may not know the history of the photo as much as another person does. That doesn’t mean they should be instantly accused of being racist.
    It seems ungodly for these Asian americans to be unacceptin of his apology. He apologised full stop. He did something which offended others, and he removed. it. Doesn’t mean his intention was racist.
    The preacher at my church posted a picture on the powerpoint which was of a man and his wife who had abused me for 25 years of his life. I wasn’t offended. He’d found the picture on the internet. He didn’t know the significance it would have for me. I didn’t demand an apology either.
    Not everyone knows the cultural revolution history, full stop.

  • Michael

    I understand that Pastor Warren hurt people when he posted and then defended himself out of ignorance. When he was further enlightened, he apologized. Now many others want him to REALLY apologize by spending more time apologizing for his ignorance.

    I don’t think he needs to rotate around the different social media sources really apologizing for his ignorance, which he should independently resolve (and be more thoughtful). If Pastor Warren wants to make the church circuit to apologize, I think that’s up to him without any pressure from the local church.

    One apology, one request for forgiveness is enough…yes?

  • Michael

    I think it’s probably too much to discern a person’s heart by attempting to read between the lines of an apology…and then insert your own apology to suit ourselves. This is the trap of social media.
    While I know that offending someone because of culture or history is a sensitive area, we all must be careful not to judge someone. Especially when they do apologize.

  • Juanita

    If someone posted a picture of ardent Hitler Youths saluting Adolf Hitler and used the same “humor” to express the dedication of their church staff, I don’t think anyone would even question why people are so offended. That is the horror of the Red Guard.

    This is as much about wanting to see a deeper realization that we as a society need to be educated about these groups and atrocities so we don’t fall into such cultural traps again. PWarren as a very visible and public figure and leader of a very large church missed an opportunity to encourage others to be more aware of these things that are a part of global history.

    When Zaccheus was transformed by meeting Jesus, he didn’t just say sorry, my bad for cheating you all on taxes. He went back and repaid them beyond what he cheated them. That is the heart that is missing from the apology.

  • Washington Zucker

    Brother, Thank you for reminding ! I should have included every one (me included). I was referring more to the experience of Asians being discriminated against by whites, than another ethnicity because this recent comment by Rick Warren reminded me of many similar events. The ideal of course is that every one should be equal and one in Christ as said in the Bible ! This needs to be reminded time and again, even to famous church leaders ! Big Pastors ! Great celebrity servants of God ! Gracias !

  • Washington Zucker

    An apology with “if” is not an apology ! What if it’s “if not”? I can easily apologize like: ” I will apologize to any one if I have hurt him or her. ” It is a universal sentence that can be uttered without heart, without sincerity, without remorse, without regret, without nothing ! It is a sentence that can be used to protect the apologizer’s self ! What a big brother pastor, so called ! What a servant of God !

  • Tee Britten

    christianity is based in martyrdom, evil punishments and priests, and is designed to f#^K with your mind. Robots is another name for christians. But the christian victims who are being persecuted etc etc are also victmisers of GLBiT people, jews, moslems, other cults supposedly followers of Christ and anyone who honors their self-integrity. There is a saying: If u bow ur head, let it be to a lofty mountain! I’ve yet to meet a christian who could approach that status.

  • Tee Britten

    forgiveness? That’s mere christian rhetoric. The US a predominately christian country shows no forgiveness for his enemies; it drops death via drones on innocents. I can’t fathom any christian ‘love’ values in that act of vengeance.

  • Edward

    If you understood anything about Christianity, it is NOT based on what you say it is. That comment alone shows the ignorance you have on the religion and that you have done ZERO research of your own. You have simply looked at what the media says and based your conclusions on that. Every religion gets a bad reputation from some of its more zealous followers. If you only look at those people to represent the religion, then you’re just as ignorant.

  • Edward

    While there is plenty of racism between Asian people, the problem I see with the situation you encountered is that you automatically assumed they are of a certain ethnicity without asking. If you had just asked ‘Do you mind me asking what ethnicity you are?’ Her response would’ve been completely different. I admit some people are overly sensitive about it but, it is the same as calling someone a Mexican when they’re not from Mexico. The difference between your situation and racism between Asian people is that people who don’t belong to a particular race (white, Asian, Latino, etc), will automatically lump other ethnicities as ONE, as if there is nothing different between them. It’s like saying all Europeans are the same, but wouldn’t you agree an Italian is as different from the French as Chinese are different from an African? While there is no excuse for Internal Asian Racism, that’s rooted in historical tragedy vs ethnic ignorance.

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  • Rudy


    I understand what you are saying. The fruit of the Christian life should include forebearance & forgiveness; 70 x 7+ as our Bible says. Not only that, but, as you point out, the relative suffering & continued begrudging that occurred as a result of sophomoric humor via a shared picture versus the actual suffering for faith is an insult. However, who do you think is really insulted by the continued begrudgment? You can’t seriously think that those who have suffered physically for their faith would be insulted by those who haven’t suffered physically yet still hold a grudge over the picture could you? I am sure those who have endured physical suffering at the hands of those types in the picture have long ago learned to subdue the pride that induces a feeling of having been insulted. On the other hand, I would say that this seemingly continued begrudgment was wearing thin on our Pastor, and he was the one who may have been insulted. Perhaps if he had presented a true apology to the world, it would have shown he had moved beyond insult himself, and had swallowed his own pride. When someone says “I’m sorry if”, are they really apologizing, or are they merely blame-shifting (google non-apology). Here is Pastor Rick Warren’s apology: “Finally back home. Staff handed me a hard copy of an email from someone offended by a picture I posted. If you were hurt, upset, offended, or distressed by my insensitivity I am truly sorry. May God richly bless you.” Perhaps Rick Warren needed to lead here by offering a real apology – not for the sake of us Christians, but for those who are lost. It is the lost who need to see our humility, sincerity & care for one another. Regards, fellow Christian.

  • Rudy

    Ken Fong,

    No, you are not the only person who thinks it sounds a lot like a faux apology. I realize my comment here is belated, and the impact wouldn’t be the same as a fresh reply in a newly opened thread, but I think comments such as yours – thoughtful & biblically sound ones – need to be seconded & encouraged, so I am replying here. I replied to David’s comment earlier, where he gave the Pastor a “pass” for “apologizing”. David needs to re-read and re-read the apology for It indeed was a faux apology, regardless of the Pastor’s inclusion of the word insensitivity. His carefully crafted response subtly implies that those who were offended are too sensitive and should “get over it”. That is not an apology, it is blame-shifting, plain and simple. Thank you for providing us all, and the very fallible Pastor Warren, with a solid example of a real apology! Although we have freedom in Christ, not all things are edifying to the body of Christ. regards, Fellow Christian.

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