Rick Warren raises eyebrows with 'punish evildoers' comments

|PIC1|Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has come under fire over comments he made on a recent broadcast of Fox’s Hannity and Colmes show.

On the programme, host Sean Hannity had asked Warren if expressing the need to "take out" Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “advocating something dark, evil or something righteous”.

“Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped,” the Southern California pastor responded before being cut off by another question.

“By force?” Hannity asked.

“Well, if necessary,” Warren replied.

“In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers,” Warren added, referring to Romans 13.

Shortly after, when asked by Hannity if killing an intruder to his house was justified, Warren said he would “absolutely” be justified to protect his family.

“But it’s not murder at that point?” Hannity asked.

“No,” Warren replied. “Murder is not self-defense.”

Following Warren’s appearance, Matthew Dus, a research associate with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, criticised the influential megachurch pastor for his “brief, if regrettable, foray into foreign policy”.

“[I]t's alarming to hear Warren deploying his spiritual influence in support of the ultranationalist ravings of someone like Sean Hannity,” Dus wrote in a commentary on Friday.

“I suspected that Warren was referring to Romans 13, which his office confirmed. But Romans 13 concerns the power of civil government to punish criminals, and has nothing to do, as far as I know, with invading foreign countries or assassinating foreign leaders,” he argued.

Warren is due to speak during the Muslim Public Affairs Council's 8th annual national convention in California, which will explore the theme of "A New Era, A New Role", and features leading thinkers, media professionals, and community leaders on the historic possibilities facing all Americans at this unique point in the history of the nation and the community.

Kevin Eckstrom, editor of Religion News Service, meanwhile, offered a word of caution to the ever popular megachurch pastor.

“Strikes me that Warren (who's generally an all-around pretty good guy) needs to be careful here that he doesn't slip into Pat Robertson territory (he knows better), who advocated the assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez,” Eckstrom commented last week.

Pastor Rick Warren was unavailable for comment.

As founder and senior pastor of the fourth largest church in the United States and author of the bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life, Warren has been one of the most prominent Christian figures in society today.

This past summer, he hosted the Civil Forum on The Presidency featuring both presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama at his church. Warren has also been named one of "America's Top 25 Leaders" by US News and World Report, one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most” and one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine, and one of "15 People Who Make America Great" by Newsweek magazine.

Over 20 million copies of his New York Times Best Seller have been sold worldwide since 2002.