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
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(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. Lionly Lamb

    As everyone seems to be “verbalistically” enumerated upon many subjective and objective resonations: the embroiling red lines between all characterized mannerisms around objective and/or subjective or even passive/aggressive reasonableness, many issues are as offset and secular- minority blocked placements upon each and every socialistically-streamed venue of multicultural commonwealth-placed states around any country’s unifying nationalisms…

    It is credulous that overlapping societies are serviced and in services of servile propagandas being ever passed down along to the generationally low-grade masses that are seldom times ever wholesomely conscious toward being made aware of their owned nationalisms’ laws let alone their individualized overloads of amassed personally redundant understandings of their empires “carcinogenetically” approved deadly chemical drug programs of big brother’s pharmaceutical giants…

    Real eyes
    Real lies

    September 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Here in the subjugated year 2,013; many folks are hog-tied and bridle-bit to big pharmacies lucrative natures of attempting to imitate Mother Nature’s Real Thing by genetically cloning the real molecules instead of using the Real Thing which nature makes abundantly… It worked for a while but now with cancers and epileptics and muscular dystrophies and diabetes on an upward slope we are once again utilizing natures owned “medicinalistic” plant ever being known throughout all of history’s many trails is nowadays on the trail of making a comeback… That plant is cannabis and it’s not our father’s hemp…

      Even before the days of Egypt and the Mayans and Aztecs cannabis plants were known of their curative nature not to mention its uses for paper and dresses and its use for building structures. Simply cut up the hemp plants stalks and leaves, grind them then mix with lime and water to form a mixture similar to paste… Once pasty; one can put the mixture in molds for either bricks or blocks or whatever desire one wants…

      Instead of using glass fibers found within fiberglass products, one can use cannabis stalks taking the place of chemically made artificial fibers which tend to degrade and become toxic to our environment and even our bodies… Even the petroleum oil-based liquid bonding agent used in fiberglass productions could be replaced by the oils found within the cannabis plants’ inner stalks which contain an emollient similar to the byproducts of liquid crude oils …

      Imagine being the first one in your neighborhood having a car and a boat made from hemp fibers and building a home all mostly made from hemp… It all can be done if only the oil companies could be weaned off of carcinogenic petrol based chemicals and most mined minerals by replacing it with the naturally grown cannabis plants to be grown in many farmlands… Of the thousands of products being nowadays made with carcinogenic petrol chemicals, utilizing the hemp plant as a natural solution against chemical carcinogens all found within fossilized petro chemicals, a nation could be monetarily upright within decades and not hundreds of years…

      The federal debt in many nations could become manageable by a myriad of businesses all popping up from almost every industry in their justifiable uses of hemp materials and even for the farmer using hemp as feed for their cattle instead of being fed a mostly non-nutritious food source not to mention hemp seeds nutritional value which could replace or be a part of the food industry much the same way the common soybean is now being used… The soybeans are nothing but small plants being harvested X-number of days after being made ready to germinate and grow… The same could be done with hemp seeds…

      Legalize and regulate cannabis for medical reasons and curb the recreational uses to be limited to adults and not for many children whose minds are not yet fully developed… However, if a small child has a sickness which may become deadly, they could be treated with a very low dosed THC that has a high dose of CBD which is not psychoactive but rather is “medicative” … As with many things there are issues to be consumed within cannabis legislation… Our thoughts of varying cannabis plant forms and their many varied flowering fruits are quite often in the seeds becoming a naturally consistent means for food supplies and consumption demands for our human bodies…

      September 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    Sea Otter, I mistook you for someone else the other day. Sorry! Carry on.

    September 16, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  3. sdfgsdfgasdfsdfg3456234523






    September 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  4. Grief has a purpose!

    Grieving is never easy and more so for a public figure.

    The positive aspect to this grieving is that Pastor Rick now has platform to share his pain with others who may be going through similar situations in life.
    He can now share with the world on how God helped him through his grief.

    September 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I can't wait to buy the memorial gold plated commemorative coin of his son rising to heaven.

      September 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Andy

      “Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
      ― Rick Warren

      That pretty much sums up what Rick might be sharing when he is on the "spotlight" tonight.

      September 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        He will have many lies to share. Bless his heart.

        September 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Andy

          Bless YOUR heart, may you find hope!

          September 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Andy, why the fuck would I need to "find hope". Are suggesting I have no hope? What is wrong with you?

        September 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • Andy

          Godless people have no hope. You can disagree all you want but that is the truth!

          September 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Tell us about your hope Apple.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          I have hope that one day, mankind will be able to put aside the tribalism that has been the root of so much pain and strife and begin to work together for the benefit of all Humankind, regardless of colour, caste, or creed.
          I feel that with the increasing ubiquity of instant, global communication that this hope is becoming more justified.
          The Babel barriers are breaking down!

          September 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          @Bill and Andy

          It is my sincere hope that in time, humans will live in harmony with the rest of the planet. I have hope this will happen. Naturally, there are many components to that proposition. I am also hopeful that my children will live joyful god-free lives and explore the world. I don't think you want me to write an essay.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • Andy

          Sorry to burst your bubble, that will never happen in your lifetime or any other lifetime. We live in a fallen world , you are going to see the good, bad and the ugly. Only God can do away with 'evil' once and for all, it will happen when He returns back to earth and makes this all new!

          September 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Andy

          Moa and Stalin are good example of how men can be evil.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Andy, you have a bad attitude. It is lazy people like you that make life so difficult for those of us who want peace and freedom. I have hope and I will until the day I die. After which time, I will not be going to Fairy Tale Land. I will decompose as nature intended and blend back into the fabric of the universe.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          We are all godless so according to you , no one has hope.
          There is no evidence of god.
          We are all born atheist, religion and "god" are taught.
          Also, I am an atheist, but have a great deal of hope, so you are just flat out wrong. THAT is the truth.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Andy

          Nope, without God there is no hope, there is no meaning in life and there is no purpose to life.

          Only God can give that hope of 'Beulah land' and remember that we live in a fallen world and will see the good , bad and the ugly until such time He returns. There is no hope for perfection without God and until His return!

          September 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • nope.


          September 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          "Nope, without God there is no hope, there is no meaning in life and there is no purpose to life. "

          Incorrect. I have no gods, there is no reason to believe, no logical path one can go down where the end point is any god. Yet I have a great deal of hope.

          I hope people can disolve religions.
          I hope we can find life on other planets.
          I hope we can get to that life, leaving this rock since it will not last forever.
          I hope my children have happy fulfilled lives free from unfounded beliefs.

          You are , again, flat out wrong.

          September 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  5. joelfoster978

    wow some pretty mean stuff on here. Do you realize he's a human being and feels pain just like everybody else?.
    You all would make Anthony Jeselnik blush

    September 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      He is a criminal.

      September 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  6. John Blitz

    If he was my father, I'd probably would have done the same thing...

    September 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    This is murder and Rick Warren should be incarcerated. His son's suicide is proof that he did NOT pray for his own son!

    September 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  8. Native Americans


    September 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Starving Sea Otters


      September 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • Starving Native American Sea Otters


        September 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Bumps from Shaving


          September 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • Starving Lactose Intolerant Native American Sea Otters


          September 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • Starving Lactose Intolerant Native American Sea Otters With Bumps from Shaving

          🙁 .

          September 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Starving Lactose Intolerant Native American Sea Otters With Bumps from Shaving and then Bleeding From the Bumps and Getting Nail Polish Remover on There

      🙁 .

      September 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Ouch


        September 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Starving Lactose Intolerant Native American Sea Otters With Bumps from Shaving and then Bleeding From the Bumps and Getting Nail Polish Remover on There and Said Ouch

          🙁 ...

          September 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm |


    September 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  10. ME II

    I sympathize with any parent who has lost a child and losing one to suicide is even worse, i'd imagine. However, Rick Warren is walking a fine line between addressing a relevant issue in many people's lives and using his son's situation for his own benefit.

    There are both aspects present in his "return", but which is more prominent, I'm not certain. Many people have justified the benefit they themselves receive by displaying some benefit to others. I'm not sure that is a valid justification.

    "Never Waste Your Pain," – Rick Warren

    September 16, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  11. It's true

    Atheists are cute when they get all self righteous...

    September 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      But there's nothing more adorable than a vitriolic religionist condemning this and that from a fiery pulpit.

      September 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  12. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    "Rick Warren returns to the spotlight"

    or paraphrasing,

    "Rick Warren scheduled to appear on CNN"

    Nothing to see here. Just gratuitous programming promotion.

    September 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  13. CP in FL

    Being a preacher has got to be the best job ever. You pretend to talk to god and collect money from your congregation. You don't need to provide any proof of god's existence because there is none and people just have to believe you because of faith. When people ask why their prayers were not answered you can just say because god works in mysterious ways. Finally you get to travel the world in search of new people that you can separate from their money all in the name of god.

    September 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Dr. Phil

      You have some serious anger issues there pal. Why not just live and let live? Trust me, you will live longer.

      September 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  14. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    I prefered the book written by the Ja panese fisherman, "A Porpoise Driven Life"....

    September 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Yes, now **there's** a finly-tuna-ed universe! 🙂

      September 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • midwest rail

        Stop, you're giving me a haddock.

        September 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          You can tuna piano, but you can't tuna fish.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • A Frayed Knot


          Oh, I'm sorry. Here, take these pain-relief tablets. They are i-see-two-mini-fin.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Squid it, I said ! I've been laughing too hard, and my mussels are sore.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  15. Josh

    For religious trolls no atheists' pain or "sinners' pain" will go unabused. (Many comment on other articles out there)
    For atheist trolls no theists' pain or tragedy in general will go unabused. (Comments on here and many others out there)
    Both will claim they are better than the other, both are selfish and no benefit to this world.
    Both are worthless and heartless trolls with no goal other than trying to exclaim their own childish "superiority".
    Both spread hate. Both make this world a worse place.

    Don't feed the trolls.

    September 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

      Says Josh, the douche bag who posts their useless opinion like everyone else on these religious hate blogs...

      September 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  16. john

    Rick Warren is an abomination to God's word. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

    September 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

      Yeah! That'll stop the thousands of stupid Christians who go to his mega-church and give him their money!...

      September 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  17. Joe

    You trolls are very funny...but I thought I just heard the bell ring, so you best be getting back to class....

    September 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  18. The man from UNCLE

    It would be an utter torture to have MR Perfect Do Gooder Warren as a Dad. Probably everything the kid tried to do was not good enough or Holy enough in the eyes of his parents. His weak mind finally gave up and KA POW -problem solved.

    September 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  19. Reality # 2

    Updating Matthew 28:18-20:

    As good students, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench )of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

    September 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Oh man, I overslept.

      September 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    I can't wait to buy the memorial gold plated commemorative coin of his son rising to heaven!

    September 16, 2013 at 12:36 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.