It is understandable, though unfortunate, that CNN’s coverage of last night’s Saddleback Presidential Forum was most likely overshadowed by Phelps-mania. Thankfully, the only event that coincided with this important religious/political discussion was the women’s marathon (zzzz). Hosted by Pastor Rick Warren, who Time magazine recently called America’s most powerful religious leader, this question and answer session with presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama is just what we need more of in the run-up to the election.
Warren introduced the appropriately titled Saddleback Civil Forum by saying that it is high time we reach a point in our political debates and discussions where we can disagree without demonizing. The audience erupted with cheers and applause. He then introduced Senator Obama and began an hour-long series of questions that he would then repeat for McCain. Unlike the Compassion Forum that CNN covered several months ago, Warren threw out some serious questions as opposed to the relatively pointless, “What’s your favorite Bible verse or story?”
Warren’s questions included “At what point does a baby have rights,” “How do you define marriage,” and “What is worth sending American troops to war for?” Of course, we will all disagree with both candidates on a variety of issues. We cannot disagree, however, on the value of such discussions…calm and civil versus quick and degrading. However, at times, I felt like Warren was too eager to move on to the next question when he could have ommitted one or two like “Name three people you listen to” for the sake of more time for more important questions. I felt that while both candidates ocassionally toed the party line, they frequently offered genuine, thoughtful answers to tough questions. Hopefully, the up-coming debates will be just as fruitful and informative…I’ll definitely be surprised if they are.
For those of you who missed any or all of the forum and did not DVR it, it will re-air on CNN tonight at 8 pm (eastern time), midnight (eastern time), and 3 am tomorrow morning (eastern time) in case you want to watch or record it.