September 15th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

Rick Warren returns to the spotlight

Programming note: Rick and Kay Warren sit down exclusively with CNN’s Piers Morgan to talk about the death of their son and their new mission to raise awareness about mental illness.

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Megachurch pastor and author Rick Warren is slowly returning to the spotlight, five months after his youngest son committed suicide.

He has shared spiritual insights on social media, returned to the pulpit to preach about overcoming obstacles and taken his purpose-driven message to Rwanda, a nation still reeling from a bloody genocide.

But Warren, the bestselling author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and one of the most famous pastors in the United States, hasn't yet spoken to the media about his son's death.

That changed when Warren and his wife Kay sat for an extended interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

In a brief clip released on Monday, Morgan and Warren discussed gun violence, including Monday's shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington.

MORE ON CNN: "The first thing I did was get down on my knees and pray for those families"

Rick and Kay Warren have been outspoken about the plague of gun violence in the United States, especially since their son, Matthew, took his own life in April after what the family call a lifelong struggle with mental illness.

“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided,” Warren wrote to staffers at Saddleback Church, his megachurch in Orange County, California.

Then Warren, one of the country's most visible spiritual leaders, disappeared from public view. But not quite.

Not even grief could silence Warren, a gregarious man with an apparent thirst for sharing his spiritual insights.

Away from his pulpit, the preacher voiced his anguish and his insights in a stream of Twitter messages and Facebook posts.

Days after his son’s suicide, for example, Warren tweeted this message:


On June 16, Father's Day, Warren tweeted this:


Other days, the pastor wrote about the pain of his loss.


In September, the purpose-drive pastor hinted at a new mission:

Even though Warren has shared his thoughts on Twitter on Facebook, he hasn't answered the questions on many people's minds - questions that may be asked on Monday night:

How has Matthew's death changed Warren's faith? Does he hold God responsible?

Resuming his pastoral duties at Saddleback in late July, Warren began a sermon series titled “Getting through what you’re going through,” that hinted at his family’s struggles and outlined their new mission.

“We intend to spend the rest of our lives comforting others with the same comfort we have been given from God, through your prayers,” Warren told the large crowds who came to see him preach.

He also credited his other children, Amy and Joshua, with helping his family through its darkest days.

“When all this happened, Amy looked at me and said, ‘Dad, Satan picked the wrong family to pick on. He’s going to lose so badly because of the platform God has given to our family.’ ”

The Warren family set up a fund in Matthew's honor to raise awareness about mental illness.

Last week Warren wrapped up a trip to Rwanda, a country he has focused on since 2005, when its government invited the pastor to help Rwandans recover from its vicious genocide in 1994, which claimed as many as 1,000,000 lives.

This weekend Warren was back at Saddleback, preaching a sermon titled, "Never Waste Your Pain."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Media

soundoff (923 Responses)
  1. Hebra

    "Someone on the internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun.I pray he seeks God's forgiveness."

    Would it have been better if someone sold his son a registered gun? Perhaps God approves only of registered guns.

    Does it make any difference to a suicidal person who has reached the end of their rope?

    September 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • elliott carlin

      That is a legitimate critique. It's almost as if he wishes to inject the gun control debate into this--perhaps it was the trial balloon comment for Piers to pick up on for the interview-many of these things are choreographed unfortunately.

      September 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • drumm3rjo3

      His son was mentally ill and most likely would not have been able to legally purchase a gun.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Buckwheat

      It is nothing but a smoke screen for his failings with his son.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  2. What?!

    Rick Warren is selling B S.

    But he's really good at it.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • CoolCMo

      All purveyors of all religions are selling B.S.

      Embracing religion is like being a mushroom... you are kept in the dark and fed huge amounts of B.S.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • PumpNDump

      Truer words were never spoken.

      September 16, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  3. Volunteer for Rwanda!

    Pastor Rick is in Rwanda to help assist the poor; care for the sick; and educate the next generation.

    How about you? Where have been volunteering lately???

    September 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Volunteer for Rwanda!

      How about you? Where have YOU been volunteering lately???

      September 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
      • smug smiley

        "Where have you been volunteering lately"

        –>Hmm, let's see--Belief blog!

        September 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
        • Volunteer for Rwanda!

          Rick Warren volunteers to take young boys virginity, god bless him.

          September 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
        • Volunteer for Rwanda!

          Hey, another volunteer for Rwanda!!

          Except this one has a focus on "virginity" a bit much! Hey you virginity obsessed-stay OUT of Rwanda!

          September 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • Volunteer for Rwanda!

          I'm joking, we're actually the same person.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • smug smiley

      Watched the movie "Hotel Rwanda" and decided to volunteer as a "critique" on belief blog 😉
      Decided that this world could need some more critiquing.

      September 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
      • Volunteer for Rwanda!

        Judge Ye! Judge Ye!

        Your name has made into the 'book of life' for your tireless contribution.

        September 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • John

      Slinging religion at people isn't the same as educating. If he wanted to educate, he would teach them other things beyond the drivel he is peddling to desperate people looking for a way out of a tough life.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • Boisepoet

        Exactly, saying 'God will provide' does not feed the hungry.

        September 16, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  4. Agnostickids

    Yeah, can't keep a good narcissist down for long, eh Warren?

    September 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • CoolCMo

      Psychologist actually use the term "malignant narcissist" to describe sociopaths like Rick Warren.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  5. Today

    Actually, there is no biblical basis for people that commit suicide being sent to hell. That would invalidate Jesus' work on the cross to allow all who believe in him to be forgiven of their sins past, present, in future. Please don't try to counter this argument with one verse from the Bible. While I agree that the purpose driven life and Warren's sermons are very misleading, it is impossible if his son truly believed in God that he is in hell. for you to make a judgment call such as that is sinful in itself. Please educate yourself on what the Bible really says and ask God for discernment. Furthermore, I hope you are blessed to not know what it is like to have mental illness...it dominates your entire life and is a nightmare.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • CoolCMo

      Of course, Rick Warren's son isn't in hell... or heaven... or purgatory... or any other "place." He's just dead. That child is no more. He is an ex Preacher's Kid.

      He's just meat... worm food... a collection of festering organic compounds. When he died, he just stopped. He didn't go anywhere... he just ceased to live.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • mjbrin

      very well written, thank you

      September 16, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  6. Lionly Lamb

    Anonymous asked me, "OmGOD, ll, why do you think that Warren's son was mentally depraved?"

    My best guess regarding Rick Warren's son committing suicide could very well be linked to his son's inabilities to cope with social conditionings brought to bear upon Mr. Warren's son's parentally conditioned ways and his son's ineptness to bring harmonies with his parental upbringing ways and his brought to bear socialized conditionings which his son found unbearable by his parentally fed garnished values of the religiously motivated varieties...

    September 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  7. jesse

    “We intend to spend the rest of our lives comforting others with the same comfort we have been given from God, through your prayers,” Warren told the large crowds who came to see him preach....

    Yes! Attempting to telepathically communicate with a bronze-age, middle-eastern, genocidal deity (yahweh) and his passive, illiterate, gay son (jesus) must provide great comfort.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Bud

      Rick needs to read the book " God's Problem" by Bart Ehrman..I spent 5 years praying , givi9ng, doing penance to god,for my wifes recovery, to no avail. God is imaginary to me ,but this book helps.

      September 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Sean MacNair

      OK, prove to me that Jesus was gay. I'll wait.

      ... still waiting...

      yeah, I thought so.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • Volunteer for Rwanda!

        In Jewish culture, a male not getting married by his mid-20's was a rarity, even for a rabbi.

        And what non-gay male chooses to hang out only with a group of other males and happily washes their feet?

        September 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  8. What?!

    This guy missed his calling as a used car salesman.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • jasper

      Please don't insult used-car salesman like that, that was below the belt.

      September 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • What?!

        You're right.

        I'm sorry.

        September 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  9. David

    Back from Heaven? If we're going by Warren's own sermons, his son was unable to repent for his sin and is definitely not in Heaven. Rick himself said suicide is a one way ticket to Hell.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • tolbert

      If Rick Warren wants to see his son again, perhaps he should commit suicide also?

      September 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • CoolCMo

        Capital idea!!!

        September 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  10. jesuslovedsodomy

    Rick Warren is gluttonous charlatan, and the people who "follow" him are likely some of the least-intelligent, undereducated, gullible people around.

    Perhaps he should follow his son's example?

    September 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  11. Lionly Lamb

    Feds Obama Say OK to Marijuana Use and Laws WEED law enforcement loosened for Cannabis Drug…


    September 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  12. Lionly Lamb

    Rick Warren is a Californian but did Rick ever consider having his now dead son to have tried the medicinal CBD (not THC) in its natural formulary from hemp oils curative powers that may well have lifted the veil from his son's mentalist depravity..?

    September 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • ??

      Do you really expect anyone to know that and answer you? You have to be the dumbest person on this blog.

      September 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • .

        you did.

        September 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Lionly Lamb

        Sired ??...

        I was attempting to have parents whose child is going thru bouts of mental aberrations unfamiliarity and the possible medicinal uses of hemp oils of very low THC compounds but quite high compounds of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of mental disorders of any child's inabilities to cope with social issues...

        September 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Anonymous

      OmGOD, ll, why do you think that Warren's son was mentally depraved? I would say that you're closer than he was. Shut UP, you idiot, and let this family grieve in peace! You stipid pot wouldn't have helped this poor soul!
      You heartless piece of shit. Shill your stupid videos, but stop suggesting that your freaking fascination with pot is the cure all. It ISN'T, and you are mentally unstable.

      September 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
      • Lionly Lamb

        Sired Anonymous...

        Who's the one displaying an unstable mannerism of worded deceptiveness..? Why such a fuss are you attempting to display and who is such rambling meant to subvert..? Surely not me... I am on terra firma oh sired Anonymous... Go play around and........

        September 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • Anonymous

          You are. You. May I direct your attention to your ignorant words:
          "his son’s mentalist depravity..?"
          If you do not know the meaning of the words you use, (and I suspect you don't because you constantly use them in the wrong context) please refrain from using them.
          Your segues into your chosen obsession is spurious and trite. You are also maligning a family that is going through unimaginable pain.

          In other words, you are an asshole for using Warren's son for your own agenda, and you are a shallow, petty, obviously sick individual whose obvious habit of smoking pot isn't doing your mental status any good.
          Shut up.

          September 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes nothing.

      September 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Colin

        A fool with a fools message.

        September 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Quasi

      It has scientifically proven that "praying to the air" accomplishes nothing but a waste of time. There is absolutely no proof that anything supernatural exists in this Universe, yea, Multiverse. An absent, invisible and silent deity is just a nothing.

      September 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
      • A Practicing Buddhist and Christian

        If we have problems with the mind perhaps we should look to Buddha who lived 2500 years ago, the greatest scientist of the mind who ever lived. He lived some 500 years before Jesus.

        I have heard, "Peace comes from within, do not seek it without."

        "We already have perfect compassion, perfect wisdom, and perfect joy. We only need to settle our minds so they an arise from deep within us."

        A Christian will call it, prayer. A Buddhist will call it, meditation and take it to much deeper levels.

        May all have a peaceful day...

        September 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Sick little person who is also:
      Dr E
      sam tone
      sam stone (stolen)
      yudhisthira mahabharata jr

      This person is not Christian.

      September 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  17. Brampt

    Warren should leave and teach more like Christ did, and less like a Greedy person would!

    September 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Colin

      In order to accomplish that Rick would need to become a Christian.

      September 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • Brampt

        A Real Christian.

        September 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • Colin

          Yes a real Christian.

          September 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Oyen

          There are No True Scotsmen. The only true Scotsmen...

          Go wash your kilt.

          September 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • Colin

          Sadly no amount of washing will make you clean oyen.

          September 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • Oyen

          Sadly, Colin, you completely missed the point, stupid.

          September 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm |


      September 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  19. Joel OilSheen

    Rick Warren just needs to put more grease in his hair, just like I do. Then the spotlight will reflect better and he can support his church with an oil derrick on his head.

    September 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  20. Lake Forest, CA

    Enjoyed every single sermon of Pastor Rick's "coming back" sermon!

    September 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      It was pretty greasy and slimy, come to think of it. I bet you coughed up some dooollars to help feed his grossly fat face too, didn't you, Lakey?

      September 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.