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Rick Warren Persuades Obama and McCain to Meet at Lake Forest Megachurch

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Evangelical mega-pastor Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" has done what nobody else could. No, Warren has not established peace on earth or claimed an end to global poverty, but this morning he announced that he'll be bringing the two major 2008 presidential candidates together (or, rather, back-to-back) on August 16.


Warren invited both Sens. McCain and Obama to visit his 20,000+ capacity church in Lake Forest (Saddleback also has three satellite campuses across Southern California) for a two-hour question-and-answer forum. Two years ago, Obama sparked minor controversy when he accepted Warren's invitation to speak at the church's second-annual AIDS conference alongside staunch Christian Conservative Sen. Sam Brownback.

The August 16th rendezvous will be a significant step for McCain in his attempt to embrace Evangelical Christian Republicans, who have thus far written off McCain as "too soft" on conservative issues. But recently, staunch Evangelical conservatives John Hagee and James Dobson have resorted to endorsing the presumptive republican candidate. Obama, despite recent speeches signifying support for religious values, is faring slightly worse than John Kerry did at this point among Evangelical voters according to a recent Pew survey.

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Don't expect any fireworks or much of a semblance of debate, however. Rev. Warren is intent on lobbing softballs every which way:

"Since I'm their friend, I'm not going to give them any gotcha questions," Mr. Warren said, adding that a typical query would be, "What's the most difficult decision you've had to make, and how did you make it?"