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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

(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:

https://twitter.com/RickWarren/status/322434892828917760

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

https://twitter.com/RickWarren/status/346218036728037376

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

https://twitter.com/RickWarren/status/326512142742351872

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. ....................

    i have proof fsm lives

    September 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  2. Meredith S.

    i don't believe sam stone is a bad person. she never said a thing to me.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Meredith S.

      There is another Meredith S. on here, I see. I don't know a Sam Stone, so I don't know whether he or she is a good person or not.
      That being said, if someone is trying to imitate me, please stop. I've done nothing to anyone here.

      Thank you.

      September 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
      • Meredith S.

        She's well come.

        September 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
        • Dippy

          Welcome, not well come.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  3. D MURDOCH

    I HAVE PROOF I AM GOD

    September 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  4. D MURDOCH

    I LOVE HORUS

    September 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  5. D MURDOCH

    VILE ANIMALS

    September 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  6. Thought Purification

    he waited to talk about the death of his son seems more like he is hoping to push "The Purpose Driven Life" to the next level.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  7. Thought Purification

    Sorry for your loss Rick, but prayers cure nothing. People used prayers when they had no hope, no doctors, no hospitals.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  8. jimatmad

    In the end, it's all about money and fame with these guys.

    Televangelists are today's circus tent preachers, and nearly all of them make Elmer Gantry look like a saint.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Dave

      Wow. Awesome powers you have that you know what someone's motives are.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  9. Alias

    His "mental issue" were depression. they were probably caused in their entirety by the fact he was gay in that family.
    I feel for the son, but I can't help but think Rick Warren should accept some responsibility.

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

      Not gonna happen. Rick is too busy blaming God.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  10. joeintucker

    "will sit for an extended interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan" – click, next...

    September 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Rick Warren

    To Yahweh/Jesus,

    Where were you in my son's moment of dire pain? I thought you were benevolent and omnipotent.

    Perhaps you only exist in our imaginations?

    -Rick

    September 15, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Alias

      It is really not that complicated:
      God made the universe, for man.
      The man god made out of dirt broke one of god's rules.
      So god held that sin against every human being who will ever be borm.
      Now, according to the rules god put in place, that original sin will send all people to the hell god created.
      To find a loophole in that rule, god got a virgin pregnant. A married virgin so she wouldn't be shunned.
      God then sacrified his son to himself so we could all be judged by god without that sin he laid on us when we die.

      Any questions?

      September 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  12. agentxyz

    I hope he will raise more money because of this.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  13. CommonSense

    Sad about the young guy killing himself. That's what someone does when they feel no other options are available, that nobody else can or wants to help. Hey, thanks again "God". Well done.
    Any mega church Pastor is a charlatan, not just Warren. However people give him money in exchange for a few simple ideas. Like any self appointed Evangelical "pastor", he gives very simple answers to all of life's complex questions. Just what people want!

    “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.’ ”

    In this comment, I would expect Amy to be about 6 years old but she is an adult. Don't ask deep questions about why this poor young person killed himself, simply pretend an invisible Evil demon is responsible.

    Simple childish talk for the emotionally immature adults.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • lizzie

      THIIIIIIIIS!!!

      September 15, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • John Sharp

      You know I am a hard line Atheist but I have to say, this is not the article for me to argue my beliefs or non-beliefs when the heart of the subject is him dealing with his son's loss. It is completely inappropriate.

      No father should have to go through this regardless of his beliefs. My heart goes out to him.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
      • RKPHX

        Thank you for that. I am a non-believer as well, but do not think this is the venue for exacerbating anyone's pain. There will be an appropriate time and place...but this is not it.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • CGDoc

        Nor Mother. It is not just rick's loss.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  14. D MURDOCH

    LIKE THE HIGH AND LOFTY ONE

    WHO INHABITS ETERNITY

    I AM GREATER

    September 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  15. D MURDOCH

    LIKE THE HIGH AND LOFTY ONE

    WHO INHABITS ETERNITY

    September 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  16. D MURDOCH

    LIKE THE HIGH AND LOFTY ONE

    September 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  17. D MURDOCH

    AND THEN WEEPING

    September 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  18. CBP

    Even at a time when we should be sending our condolences to this family there are some who must deliver these messages which have no place as comments to this story.

    Perhaps they could refrain from writing so that no family would have to read statements like these.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Rick Warren

      My family lives in luxury, with money from people who are too stupid to know better.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • CGDoc

        You remember that you don't take a dime from your own ministry. Your fortune came from your writings.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  19. rob

    Like Rick Warrens son, Jesus was (obviously) gay.

    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? Seriously.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • CGDoc

      Where in the Bible does it say HE hadn't taken a Woman to be his wife?

      September 15, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • Rick Warren

        Where did it say he didn't marry his disciples?

        September 15, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
        • CGDoc

          Mary Magdalene?

          September 15, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  20. steve

    Luckily, religious people are dying off faster than they can be replaced in the US, and their idiotic beliefs are ridiculed among the educated classes.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Bob

      I guess you hang out with a different group of "educated" people. My educated friends believe in God. I know that messes with your theory, but it's the reality.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
      • Cole

        Only if you count a degree from the Southern Bible Humper College of William and His Wife and Close Cousin Mary as an "education".

        September 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • hmmm

      You mean the ones who believe in evolution ?

      September 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • CGDoc

      Don't count on it Cuz!

      September 15, 2013 at 9:31 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.