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. JustAGuy

    And for the record? Not all Christians are against Gay Rights. Neither are all Atheists bad people.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • john

      accept god in your life and learn from the bible or go to hell ;gays ; suicide; denial of our God and savior

      September 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
      • JustAGuy

        Really? Your skills at exegesis are horrible. Really bad. In fact, you shouldn't probably post on here because with skills that bad, you're just bringing shame to the cause of Christ.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  2. dzerres

    If God isn't answering Rick's prayers then there are only two conclusions: 1. there's no God listening, 2. God does not get involved in our day to day lives. Either case this is PROOF that prayer doesn't work. Quit pleading and begging some mythological being who isn't paying attention and instead concentrate on living your lives, helping people and quit judging other folks.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • hmmm

      you probably should rewrite your post then

      September 15, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
      • JustAGuy

        Exactly.. He doesn't even realize that he is being hypocritical...

        September 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • CGDoc

      God gave everyone on Earth free will to do whatever they want, whether it be for good or for bad. We each can blow our own brains out or someone else's. These are choices we all must make. We can build a personal fortune or give to the poor. It really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things because our time on this Earth is so miniscule compared to eternity that what matters is that we earn the honor to be in His presence once we leave. One needs only to study the vast amount of evidence surrounding Near Death Experiences to know that something better (or worse) awaits all of us. For those that believe it's do to lack of oxygen, research it on your own and decide.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • JustAGuy

      Probably about the worst logic I've ever seen from an Atheist. There are a number of fallacies in your statement that could apply, but I won't waste my breath explaining them. Unless, of course, you insist on a detailed analysis of how poor your critical thinking skills actually are...

      September 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  3. kzooresident

    Reading the repeat of the same purely evil commentary as was posted on the last article about Mr. Warren, it is abundantly clear that the two most intolerant, uncivilized and simply worst examples of the human species are atheists and gay rights "supporters", (aka haters).

    September 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • dragonfly310

      Why are the "haters" those that call you out on your own hate? Last time I checked, it was Christians telling atheists and LGBT supporters to leave the country, they're going to hell, attempting to deprive them of equal rights, etc, not the other way around.

      September 16, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  4. JustAGuy

    Nice. Someone's son dies and people use it as an opportunity to trash religion, advocate gay rights and otherwise fulfill they're agenda.

    The higher road has been closed, I guess.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • dragonfly310

      As opposed to Christians using the same opportunity to bash gays and atheists?

      September 16, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  5. snowboarder

    it is unfortunate that matthew felt that this was his only option.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • mjbrin

      very sad

      September 16, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  6. Four Two

    Time to refill the bank account already?

    September 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  7. steve

    Don't worry, I'm sure Rick Warren will write a book and make millions of dollars off of the suicide of his gay son.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • GAW

      And that's all a very American thing to do.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  8. GAW

    Looks like the morons are falling off the stupid tree and right onto this comment board tonight.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • RheaCountyGradwhoknowsyou

      very mature comment... so enlightened. You must be a College boy democrat. Only they are capable of such comments of insight that causes one to do self reflection about their points of view.... mo mo.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  9. stevie68a

    There was some talk that the son was gay. With all the gay hating "christians" he was surrounded with, suicide must have
    seemed attractive

    September 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  10. ahemingwaynerd

    I'm not really a fan of Rick Warren, but really guys? His son just died. Give the guy and his family a break. I admit some/many Christians can be intolerant and hateful, but a parent lost his child and that's never easy.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • happylucky

      Perhaps suicide was the best option, especially growing up gay in an evangelical household?

      September 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  11. Not Too Hard to Understand

    Maybe if Rick Warren weren't such a phoney baloney...
    Just sayin'.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  12. mojoquasi

    With Rick Warren for a father the poor kid never had a chance.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  13. John

    The guy who sold Warren's kid a gun doesn't owe him an apology. And Warren doesn't have the right to give him forgiveness.
    Typical pastor d-bag.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  14. Kenneth

    Take one look at Rick Warren's palatial estate and its exactly how Jesus would've lived.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Scott

      It's one thing to be vile and hate filled but at least try and based your hate on truth and facts. Rick Warren does not own a palatial estate. Not even close. He gives well over 90% of his money away to the church and other charities. How about you?

      September 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  15. Jules

    My heart goes out to Rick Warren and his family. As the mom of a bipolar son, I know that it is a constant struggle both for the person that is mentally ill and for the family. I prayed for years and years for my son to get help (he is an adult) and finally after a truly horrific incident he went for the help and the medication that has helped him. This is not to say that the manic episodes have completely gone away, because they haven't. But at least some of the time my son has learned to handle them. Everyday is a day on edge, because you never know what is going to happen.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Message below Jules'

      Praying won't help a thing, you son is an adult and its his life to do what he wants with it. All you can do is let him know that you love him.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
      • Mike

        Sorry to disappoint you but prayer does work. Try it sometime but you have to pray honestly not in the vain you show.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
        • happylucky

          Good to know, will you send me the links to the studies that show it works or influences events?

          September 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
        • morganmachen

          Does prayer eliminate the need for medication?

          September 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Brindle

      His son wasn't mentally ill. He was gay and they couldn't accept it or change it through therapy. The poor kid killed himself because he couldn't fit into their world and they wouldn't accept him unless he did.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  16. mandarax

    "This Father's Day I would like my son back from heaven"

    Why? What a weird thing for a Christian to say. His son who has spent a life in mental anguish is now (according to Christian beliefs) in a place of perfect peace and eternal reward. Why would he want to take his son out of that place if he truly believed what he preaches?

    September 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Because deep down, Rick Warren knows its all a fairy-tale (like most educated, intelligent adults).

      September 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • dragonfly310

        Or maybe, just maybe, Mr. Warren was hurting and missing his son. Need I remind you that when a person is in pain, that person might not think they way they normally would.

        September 16, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    I'm just trolling y'all, prayer changes nothing.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Jules

      Have you tried praying? It certainly has changed things in my life.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
      • Kenneth

        Attempting to telepathically communicate with a bronze-age, middle-eastern deity (yahweh) and his "son", probably wouldn't accomplish much. I should know, I prayed once when I was 9 years old (to win a soccer game) and we lost, it has never occurred to me to try again.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  18. Danko Ramone

    "...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.’ ”

    They actually view the whole thing as an attack from Satan, and that Satan is actually real, sitting somewhere on a pile of burning coals, with horns, etc. Unbelievable.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  19. Volunteer for Rwanda!

    Wait, isn't being gluttonous, greedy charlatan a sin? Rick Warren is guilty of 3 sins right there.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  20. Randy Davenport

    My brother and his family was involved in murder-suicide in 1989. I saw first hand what my parents went through. My family and his have some point of contacts including that my mom visited just hours before the murder suicide. Warren's son visited his family shortly before his suicide. I have a feeling of what Rick Warren went through. All of you haters need to have a some respect for him.

    No matter if you are atheists or a Christian bashing another Christian, you should have some sympathy and respect. What has happened to manners? And only God knows who is a Christian, not you. So he does something you do not agree with; that does not make him a non-Christian.

    I do not agree with all that Rick Warren does, but I am glad that he is speaking out for more mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Some people who commit suicide do not show warning signs. I would give him a thumbs up on that.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Volunteer for Rwanda!

      Rick Warren sounds as if his son should've killed himself with a registered handgun, not an unregistered one.

      Anyways, why should we have respect of someone who seems to be willing to make money off his son's death?

      September 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
      • Scott

        How exactly is he making money off his son's death? Please share your wise and well thought out insights.

        You know, as I read your posts I am reminded of Mark Twain's famous quote, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

        September 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
        • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

          How many millions of dollars will Rick Warren make after writing a book about his son's death (and going on all kinds of shows to promote it)?

          September 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
      • kristian

        how do you know hes all about money? maybe he is just trying to use what him and his family have gone through to help others in the same position. and personally, i think if you all are gonna bash him for making good money, you're obviously butthurt that someone is getting money for being an advocate for something you don't believe in

        September 15, 2013 at 9:28 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.