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. typical born again b.s.

    funny how his son is not in hell screaming in pain but all of the non believers are. oh yes, it is different this time and I sure there is scripture to back up every born again mistake. rick should talk about how bad it is for his son to be in hell right now like ALL born again do about everyone else. join the party.

    September 16, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  2. Agnostickids

    Virgin Mary?

    What if your daughter told you that story....

    September 16, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I trust my daughter but I would still insist that she gets an exam.

      September 16, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • JDD

      "What if your daughter told you that story..."

      But she didn't. Instead, people like Paul of Tarsus, C.S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa told you that story. Intelligent, deep thinking, level-headed people who obviously found enough reason to support their beliefs. So you're going to have to go a little farther than 'your daughter' dismissal.

      September 16, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • Apple Bush

        JDD, you did NOT make your case. Fail.

        September 16, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  3. Agnostickids

    The only miracle Jesus Christ performed, was being a white guy, in the Ancient Middle East.

    September 16, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Apple Bush

      He had Michael Jackson's skin condition.

      September 16, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  4. HeavenSent

    God is your Father. He breathed life into the universe and loves you with love. Jesus gave us His gift to us, The Bible (which is Holy). My 12-year-old daughter just got home from work. Time to start your walk with Jesus (the Lord).


    September 16, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  5. Apple Bush

    I hate churches like this. Such a waste of money and resources. Even if you are Christian, what is with this waste?? Give me a park and some people and can sermon more effectively. Easy. I am saying that me, and I am an atheist, could deliver a better Christian sermon in my front yard than any fake preacher.

    September 16, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Hmmmm

      So go do it !

      September 16, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • Apple Bush

        I decided to just do it on Twitter.

        September 16, 2013 at 9:10 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          In church last Sunday, a family walked in. Father, mother, four year old boy and two year old girl. They're there every week. The little girl was pouting about something and she wouldn't go sit with her family. Arms folded and faced scrunched up in the "I'm angry with you" expression. The mother looked at, exasperated but without the energy or patience to deal with it. The father got up, went over to the little and knelt in front of her. He held her face in his hands and talked softly to her, then kissed her on the forehead and stood up, hold his hand out for her to take. She refused but he didn't react. He just went back to the pew and sat down. She couldn't help herself. The anger melted and she ran over to her mom. The little boy, overjoyed, flung himself at Dad and there were hugs and kisses for everyone.

          The homily that day was about how God is patient in his love for us but it didn't matter. I'd already heard it.

          September 16, 2013 at 9:34 am |
        • Apple Bush

          Bill, she was mad because they made her go to that awful church. Duh. Child abuse.

          September 16, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  6. Apple Bush

    This reminds me of frozen peanut butter and Smuckers sandwiches with no crust. Tasty.

    September 16, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Alien Orifice

      Ha! That is funny I was thinking the same thing!

      September 16, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Ungodly Disciipline

      Just ate three of those bad boys. Breakfast of champions.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  7. sick of christian phonies

    I notice that Mr. Warren is establishing something or other to raise awareness of mental illness... no mention of doing anything from his bully pulpit about gun violence, or doing something about sales of guns on the internet, which is how his son killed himself.
    Oh, wait, he's from shoot-em-up Texas; don't want to lose any of the cash cows that come to his glitzy temple and pay his salary.

    September 16, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Dina

      I agree. Would be great if he came out against guns, but he is apparently not brave enough. Or perhaps he thinks Jesus would love our gun culture?

      September 16, 2013 at 7:47 am |
      • Mirosal

        David Koresh said he was the modren-day messiah, he was from Texas as well, and we all know how much HE loved our gun culture!!!

        September 16, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Mirosal

      Raising money for awareness of this is a good cause, but now you have to stop and think .... since a mega-chuch pastor is going to run it, just how much will be doled out for the cause, and how much will he keep for "administration costs".

      September 16, 2013 at 7:49 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Mirosal, I am sure their books are wide open for you to investigate.

        September 16, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • ldg323

      You disgust me. I hope you never have to go through the pain of losing a child.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • Mirosal

        I did lose a child ... newborn son .. March 18th, 1991. So don't tell me how to feel. I've been through it.

        September 16, 2013 at 8:22 am |
        • ldg323

          That comment was not meant toward you. It was meant to the original poster "sick of christian phonies". I apologize if I put it in the wrong place. And am even more sorry for you loss.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:26 am |
        • Apple Bush

          Mirosal, I am so sorry for your loss. I too have experienced great loss, but not my own child. I can't even imagine.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Apple Bush

      How about putting the big push on legalizing my medicine?

      September 16, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • gove

      Typical shallow, short-sighted response from someone who can't understand God's love and mercy. Sounds like a relativist phony to me.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  8. Confused

    Why mourn? If heaven is a real place, then Rick's son exists in the best place imaginable. When it comes down to it, Christians really don't believe the b.s. they sell about the afterlife.

    September 16, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      No such luck, I'm afraid.
      Christians believe that suicide will land you in Hell.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • Maybe not?

        Per the article, RW posted on twitter that he wanted, for Father's Day, to have his son back from Heaven. SO.. maybe not Hell?

        September 16, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • VS

      Just that someone is in a better place doesn't mean you don't miss that person. It helps you to bear the pain of the momentary seperation and comforts you, but you can still miss that person's presence here with you even though you believe that He's in heaven. If your son or a dear one would go away and be in a place where he's unable to contact you but where he's better than now, I guess you'd also be glad for that person, but still miss hanging out with him or just chatting. The fact that you miss him and that this makes you sad doesn't mean you don't believe he's better off now.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:23 am |
      • Brother Maynard

        That may be ... but not lets flip it around
        Would a parent take a child out of a place of joy and place that child in a place of torment just to satisify that parents selfishness?
        That is what Rick W is doing when he tweeted
        "For Father's Day, I'd like my son back from heaven"
        Additionally, supposed God said to the Matthew Warren, " Matthew I received a prayer from your father today. He wants you back on Earth, and I'm going to grant that prayer"
        What do you think Matthew would think?
        "WHOA Lord ! I'm happy here. Happy with you. I feel bliss and peace for the first time in my life"
        God "No matter you are going back"
        Don't you think Matthew would resent his father ? AND God? AND try to kill himself again to be with the Lord ?

        September 16, 2013 at 8:50 am |
  9. N&W 1000

    Where Warren is concerned, people should follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17.

    September 16, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  10. dennis

    JESUS IS GOD!!!!!

    September 16, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Has he ever healed an amputated limb? If I was a surgeon and somebody thanked a fictional character after I saved their life, I'd punch them in the throat (mentally of course. I'm not a violent man).

      September 16, 2013 at 6:07 am |
    • sick of christian phonies

      WOW! Without any doctors??!!?! THAT'S impressive!

      September 16, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So was the quadruple bypass performed by cherbim, seraphim or some other magical spirit?
      Or was that lfie saving surgery done by lowly, sinful humans?
      Thank medical science and the surgeons who mastered it, not God.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  11. dennis


    September 16, 2013 at 5:43 am |
  12. dennis




    September 16, 2013 at 5:42 am |
    • ll

      So, an unsaved person who cries out for salvation...his prayer isn't heard? God wouldn't know in advance who would eventually be Christians & therefore watch out for them prior to conversion? They are his flock, right?

      One thing I think we are all tired of is people thinking that chrisitianity is some exclusive high horse club...Too many people thinking they are extraordinarily special and because of it, get to run around looking down their nose at others.

      September 16, 2013 at 7:39 am |
      • Liberalism RequiresTyranny

        You just looked down your nose at others.

        You liberals are hypocrisy perfected.

        September 16, 2013 at 8:15 am |
        • Condescension

          The first rule of condescension is to find a classification where you can lump people in that you don't like. Take "liberal" for example.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:39 am |
        • dragonfly310

          Oh, so Christians should get a free pass for all the nastiness they spew? Not hardly. One's stating facts, and you're just looking down your nose at them for doing it.

          September 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Natty Dread

      Ya'll too damn bloody minded! I don't want no blood to drink nor no flesh to eat. Is it that Christians believe in human sacrifice as a way to appease god and "save" themselves? Sounds very pagan to me.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:11 am |
      • Mirosal

        Christmas and Easter are also pagan in origin, that SHOULD tell you something right off the bat.

        September 16, 2013 at 8:16 am |
      • Liberalism RequiresTyranny

        Jesus is the Word made flesh.
        For their own good, those who trust Him are admonished to eat and drink the words of God.

        Still to complicated for you?

        September 16, 2013 at 8:18 am |
        • Word

          "Too complicated", rather than "to complicated".... and I'm biting my tongue right now.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:43 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          What could possibly be confusing about transubstantiation, right?
          It's just magical cannibalism.

          September 16, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  13. dennis

    Sorry for rick warrens tragedy, but
    Rick Warren, as with many other PREACHERS, have strayed away from true bible doctrines, TO GET RICH!!!!!!!!

    You make the LORD out of a liar, when you say he cannot free people from their issues.
    GODS WORD, will free anyone. if they make use of GODS WORD.
    Too many people are blaming the LORD, because they are fake.
    if it is taught, and practiced, it will produce results in your life.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:39 am |
    • david esmay

      Get some medication.

      September 16, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • ll

      Why is it that almost all the 'christian responses' to most of these statements here are nothing more than shallow insults? When did Christianity become an us v. them insult machine? ugly...

      September 16, 2013 at 7:32 am |
      • sick of christian phonies

        Almost ALL religions- especially Western faiths- have an "us vs. them" mentality. It is part of the belief systems to think your group or sect or cult has all the answers and everyone else is wrong.

        September 16, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • RickintheCity

      Seek professional mental help! Like go to a psychiatrist! You need serious help...bad!!

      September 16, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 16, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • Justin

      "I pray he gets his son back."

      Nope, I guess prayer just gives you an illusion control.

      September 16, 2013 at 4:07 am |
      • Rett

        prayer might have changed Rick.

        September 16, 2013 at 5:43 am |
    • Mirosal

      If Rick Warren's son comes back, THEN yur words might, I said MIGHT, hold some credence. Until then, you can pray all you want, but nothing will ever change because of it.

      September 16, 2013 at 4:16 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      actions cause change; prayer wastes valuable time.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:34 am |
    • david esmay

      Nothing fails like prayer.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • sick of christian phonies

      Wrong. No proof of that at all. Only thing it changes is what should be rational, thinking people into magic-believing automatons.

      September 16, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  15. Rick

    When will these snake oil salesmen disappear?

    September 16, 2013 at 3:29 am |
    • .

      You are still here.

      September 16, 2013 at 3:54 am |
  16. Chris

    Thank you Mr Warren for a being a blessing to many people. We know that God causes all things to work together for God to them that love Him. Keep up the good work. God bless you.

    September 16, 2013 at 2:46 am |
    • ll


      September 16, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      "We know that God causes all things to work together for God to them that love Him"
      First of all this is a poorly written sentence, but I think I get the jist of what you are trying to say.
      Now - are you really saying that God taking Matthew Warren was done so that Rick Warren would love God MORE?
      God: "Hmm ... kinda bored today ... I think I need Rick Warren to show me that he loves me. Hmm what to do ?? ... I know I'll have his son, Matthew, kill himself. THAT will show me that Rick really loves me. Man am I omnibenevolent or what? "

      September 16, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  17. T Cronrath

    Mental illness is a terrible thing for a individual and family to live with, however it is not from "satan" but a chemical imbalance in the brain. Do not care for Rick Warren and did not like his famous book-and I am a Christian.

    September 16, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • jack woods

      Very Christ like response

      September 16, 2013 at 12:37 am |
      • HB

        What's wrong with his response? As a brother in Christ he is called to love Rev. Warren – that doesn't mean he has to like him or his book. He is actually allowed to have an opinion about people and things. I do not like everyone I meet, but I would hope that I would treat them with dignity and respect and give my life for them if I were called to do so. Just because you love someone (agape) does not mean that you agree unflinchingly with their every thought, word, and deed. In fact, loving someone in a Christian way can mean disagreeing with someone completely when their thoughts, words, and actions are harmful to themselves and others. I would hope that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would love me enough to help me live out my Christian faith when I inevitably fail to do so. I am a sinner saved by grace and I need others to help guide me. It doesn't mean that they have to particularly like me either.

        September 16, 2013 at 6:56 am |
        • Mirosal

          HB... you don't have thousands of people hanging on your every word and throwing you money when you tell them "god says I need a new apartment for my secret teenage girlfriend." To have that kind of influence on sheep .. I mean people can be dangerous, and preachers know how to milk it. They are nothing more than welfare recipients living off of the donations of others because they either cannot get or do not want a real job.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:05 am |
        • HB


          That has to do with Jack's comment or my response how? Your opinion is noted and honored.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:24 am |
        • ll

          It was a cheap insult and has absolutely nothing to do with his response...therefore making his and your comments carry more weight.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • Carlton

      To Mr Warren, and I say "Mr" instead of "Rev." because I have no respect for you as a so-called "man of God." You've said a \ lot of hateful things and now you want pity. Well, you have my pity because losing a child is probably the worst thing a parent can endure. So, maybe you experienced some of the pain you placed on others, and now you might want to explore another religious concept - kharma.

      September 16, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • John Woods

      You really felt the necessity to qualify your remarks by saying you don't like this man whose son killed himself? Christian or not, what a tacky, heartless person you are.

      September 16, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Chris

      You seem to have a weird kind of theology, just saying.

      September 16, 2013 at 2:41 am |
  18. bently

    your son knew you were a fraud

    September 16, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • brett

      seriously? hard not to judge someone by their "ignorance" but a father has a son with mental illness that takes his own life and you insinuate him being a fraud...
      I pray you dont have such similar things happen in your life to a loved one.

      September 16, 2013 at 12:28 am |
      • Fitzroy

        As a father and a born-again christian whose son is struggling with mental illness, I empathize with anyone who is dealing with this issue. Mental illness can feel like a death sometimes, because we miss the person we once knew, but as christians we are called to trust God. We are not always going to understand, but we know that God makes all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28).

        September 16, 2013 at 12:50 am |
        • John Woods

          You don't understand god's will because this kid's mental illness had nothing to do with god. Any god.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:17 am |
        • dennis

          If you are a born again believer,
          then you should know to bind that devil, and free you son.
          IT WORKS!!


          September 16, 2013 at 5:50 am |
  19. Jeff

    I thought I'd be reading an article, not a list of tweets.

    September 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • shabbada

      Oops. Didn't you realize you were on the CNN site? Tweets are news to them.

      September 16, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  20. t

    It says John 11:35

    September 15, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
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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.