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. Nathan

    Sorry for your family's loss, but you seem to be blaming everyone else. Look in the mirror Rick. Perhaps if you had spent more time with your son instead of being so absorbed doing your own thing, he may be alive today. We will never know. I'm sure your loss is incredibly painful, and I am truly sorry for that, but you are dodging the central questions. Perhaps I would too; they are hard to answer truthfully.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Sir Mr.


      September 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Arla

      Nathan, I don't think u should blame Rick for his son's mental illness. It is an illness like cancer or TB. I guess Rick probly shouldn't blame others either but lots of times when someone dies unexpectedly whether by suicide or something else the tendency is to blame someone.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
      • Brindle

        He wasn't mentally ill. That's what they said cause they couldn't say he was gay. And here's a shocker, therapy didn't help. What's left to do if your family doesn't accept you and you are told your are broken and can't be fixed?

        September 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Scott

      So Nathan, you are close to the Warren family and you know how much time he spent with this son?

      And in terms of being "self absorbed", yes doing whatever he can do to help Rwanda deal with genocide and now taking on our broken mental health care system in America...yes indeed...those are certainly very "self absorbed" activities.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Karon

      "Purpose driven life". That is what killed his son! His son couldn't get past that. The purpose of life is to live your life and to not be driven by anything because when you are driven your not stopping to enjoy it. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Driving his son to have a "purpose driven life" instead of a fun happy life which IS the purpose of life which is the Grace of God. It is the purpose of us all to spread the gospel. The Gospel Truth is nobody should be "driven to do anything" because the works were finished from the foundation of the world! There is no work TO DO because God finished it. Gospel Truth is people need to work on not thinking they must do the work. That is the work we are suppose TO DO and a purpose driven life is just a total waste of time because God finished the work. (Heb 3:4) Furthermore, It is a total curse to think you MUST do the work!(Gal 3:10-13) It is a total curse to think you MUST have a "purpose driven life". Sorry, but THAT's the Gospel Truth, I spread. The Gospel clearly states that God "finished" the works.(that's my faith) so go have a picnic day! Nobody... Nobody is going to be able to change one thing God has "finished"... so its pretty pointless to have a purpose driven life instead of a picnic day!

      September 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  2. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Condolences to Mr. Warren. I read his Purpose Driven Life a few years ago. He does seem to believe that people live on in heaven or hell after death. His son's death is sad all round and I wish it were possible for him to see hiim again. Some of us do wish that at least some of what Christians want to be true could be true.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  3. The Riverbank Church

    Reblogged this on The Riverbank Church, Chicago and commented:
    Pastor Rick Warren returns to the spotlight.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    What mental illness? Was his son "gay"?

    The religious nuts think it is an illness that is contagious. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha

    September 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • eric

      Gaay is a mental illness, it's disgusting and unnatural. Totally messed up, of course he kiled himself.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
      • RKPHX

        Religion is a mental illness.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm |


    September 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  8. Zack

    I notice Rick Warren hasn't changed his tune on LGBT rights at all. I wonder if he cares about the pain of LGBT Youth that have been driven to suicide by people like Rick Warren who tell them they will go to hell.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • pauleky

      Of course not, Zach. These people don't think critically. At all.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Mary

    Doubt piers will let them speak without constant interrupting.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • frontgate

      Morgan's job is to keep people on topic. That's why he interrupts.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  10. Owl Creek Observer

    I lost a very good friend to suicide several years ago. His family was devastated and they remain so all these years later. To those here who are so callous as to ridicule these poor people in the midst of their grief, I say shame on you. But I suspect that many of you are incapable of experiencing shame.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  11. Lionly Lamb

    CBD or cannabidiol is the antipsychotic molecule of cannabis and may well have been useful for anyone who's having bouts of psychosis... Instead of Pastor Warren attempting to use the naturally occurring antipsychotic medicine found within cannabis plants and now being germinated to have a high potency of CBD molecules and a very low ratio of THC molecules, Pastor Warren chose to seek chemically made offshoots of the naturally occurring antipsychotic chemical molecules...

    Cannabinoid Profiles – THC, THCA, THCV, CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC...


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

      Hasn't helped you any. Leave Warren's son out of this, you unfeeling git.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  12. Gavin Ford

    He wants his son back from "heaven". Yeah, good luck with that, you myth-beliieving moron.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Eric

      Thanks for representing atheists so well.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  13. Bill Walter

    You can listen to the message right now ' "Never Waste Your Pain.". Who knows? there might be a message for you tonight.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  14. What

    I find it quite interesting that christians living in a free country,, need to be owned and dictated by primitive man's religions.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Tom

      Shut the foock up

      September 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
      • Gavin Ford

        Well...it is true.

        September 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
      • Ramen Noodles

        Exactly what I would expect from someone who is still a slave to primitive religion; cursing and lack of a worthwhile response.

        September 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • Buckwheat

        Wow, that's mighty Christian of you! No surprise of coursel

        September 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  15. blf83

    Rick Warren os one of the "prosperity gospel" preachers who has deeply perverted Christianity. I'm sure he has deeper insights after the suicide of his son, but he still preaches a false god. I am not a conservative or right-wing Christian, and I understand his anguish over his son, but he still follows the money.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • elliott carlin

      The Scriptures teach your right hand should not know what your left hand is doing-meaning you are doing so many good works you should not be keeping up with them. Rick Warren elects to tell everyone he's donated his salary to charity-donated back to HIS church. Smacks a bit of self-promotion.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • What

        scriptures make up the bible comic book..

        September 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • blf83

          Amen and Awomen.

          September 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
      • mjbrin

        but, he is still worth $25 million dollars. I thought a rich man getting into heaven was like a camel getting through the eye of a needle.......

        September 16, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Bill Walter

      What is 'prosperity gospel' in light of the sermon "Never Waste Your Pain."

      What is so prosperous about "pain"??

      September 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  16. elliott carlin

    I'm sorry for their loss, however the Warren's desire to constantly be in the spotlight is disconcerting. Relating such things as finding their son's well worn/marked copy of Warren's Purpose Driven Life, though said in grief, is completely self-serving. A book he wrote for crying out loud. The greater grief would be to have found his well worn Bible. I understand the overwhelming sense of grief-but I also see the promotion and perhaps unintended pandering.

    So we'll soon see a new book out from the Warren's on dealing with mental illness...it will sell a million copies and off we go again..

    September 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • CoolCMo

      What did you expect? He's an amoral con man hell bent on picking the pockets of every scared old lady in the country.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Reed

    If I grew up in that nut family, I'd kill myself too. His son saw the hypocrisy behind the pulpit of the showbiz.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • spot on

      wow... spot on.. lol

      If I grew up in that nut family, I'd kill myself too. His son saw the hypocrisy behind the pulpit of the showbiz.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • kwhisperer

      If I grew up in his shoes and didn't like what I saw of the religion and/or people I was surrounded with, I still wouldn't do what he did. There's something deeper going beyond this kind of superficial analysis.

      September 15, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  18. BO

    A new poll shows a record number of Americans do not trust the government to fix any of America’s problems. And another Economist/YouGov poll shows Obama's presidential approval rating has dropped to an all time low of 38%.

    Back to the poll on trusting government, an all-time low percentage of Americans, 51 percent, do not have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the government’s capabilities to get the job done it is supposed to do.

    September 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Gratuitous

      ...Slam against the POTUS that has no bearing on this story whatsoever. Go post on Political Ticker, it's ------–> thataway.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Buckwheat

      I'm sorry you have BO, try some Dry Idea available at Walmart pharmacy.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  19. Lionly Lamb

    Anonymous wrote me stating, "You are. You. May I direct your attention to your ignorant words:
    "his son’s mentalist depravity.."?"

    The terminology of a mentalist is someone who uses their mental abilities and since Pastor Warren's son was deemed unable or depraved of such abilities via either his son's parental upbringing with a sudden influx of abhorrent societal conditionings altering his son's parental conditioning values could well have sent Warren's son into such a state of emotional desperation where he could no longer cope with life's conditioning ways...

    September 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Your words speak for themselves. You need to go back to shilling your pot videos and stop trying to disgnose someone else, when it's abundantly clear that you're cuckoo for cocopuffs yourself.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • Buckwheat


        September 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  20. Hebra

    Rick Warren Exposed

    www youtube com/watch?v=yWidYLWx_js‎

    September 15, 2013 at 5:43 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.