Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saddleback-Haters to Hold Conference

“You’re right, Rick,” say
conference organizers:
We just don’t like you.”

by Sergius Martin-George

The Ad Hominem Center, Buffalo's brand new
convention facility, will host Saddlebash I.

 Things are tough for Rick Warren.  These days, America’s pastor can’t seem to catch a break.  For years, a standing army of detractors has been on high alert, waiting to pounce on one doctrinal misstep after another, ultimately prompting the Southern California mega-pastor to quip about “Saddleback-haters,” a term he’s used several times in responding to the recent Kingsway controversy. 

Now a group has come forward to confirm that Warren is being neither hyperbolic nor paranoid in his reference to “Saddleback haters”:  They’re here. They’re angry.  And next month, they’re meeting in Buffalo.  However, unlike some groups who oppose Warren purely out of doctrinal concern, the PASS organization—Pastors Against Saddleback Shenanigans—freely admits that its primary motivation is jealousy and personal animus toward America’s pastor.

E.F. Dorresh of Pastors Against
Saddleback Shenanigans

“We simply don’t like him.  And we’re jealous of his success,” says PASS founder and coordinator E.F. Dorresh of Hamburg, New York, just a stone’s throw from Buffalo. “Like many of our co-religionists, we also think he’s watering down the gospel, cozying up to Muslims, introducing wacky concepts from Eastern spirituality, cavorting with New Agers (Mehmet Oz) and using as many different apostate Bible translations as necessary in order to get the job done. We predict it won’t be long before he stops doing that—not because of any reformatory impulse on his part, but because he will soon reach the point where he no longer feels the need to defend any of this garbage biblically.” 

More than one thousand pastors, bloggers, and assorted troublemakers are expected to descend upon Buffalo for Saddlebash I, to be held at the city’s brand new Ad Hominem Center, a $200 million hotel and conference facility located on the waterfront, April 27-29. Says Dorresh, “This place is brand-spankin’-new, so it’s the perfect venue for giving Rick Warren a spankin’.”

PASS was founded as an amalgam of several autonomous clusters of Warren critics from various locations across the U.S. The key challenge in organizing anti-Saddleback sentiment wasn’t financial or doctrinal; rather it was coordination: there are simply so many Saddleback haters out there, the prospect of organizing them was daunting. 

It still is, in fact. Controversy within the ranks of Warren detractors is not unusual—as they are a quarrelsome lot.    Even the choice of keynote speaker for the event presented a major hurdle. Ken Silva, of Apprising Minisitries, a discernment blogger who has taken on Warren in cyber space many times, would have seemed a natural choice.  But Silva declined the organization’s request, noting that the PASSing interest in him was flattering.

"These boots were made for walkin'"-- as
far away from Rick Warren as possible
“I don’t hate Rick Warren,” said the New Hampshire pastor, whose congregation, like Warren’s, was once affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. “I’ve heard he’s a great guy—very cordial.  I respect his intellect, and his interest in solving intractable world problems is admirable.  But I can’t stand by and let him twist the Gospel into something it isn’t.

“It’s not personal, though,” Silva said.  “Not at all.  And that’s where, I think, I part company with many if not most in PASS and other I-hate-Saddleback groups.  They’re making us look bad, and playing right into Warren’s paranoid hands.” 

Looking bad doesn’t seem to be a major concern for PASS however, as they are not lacking in sympathetic figures. Perhaps the most interesting if not the most inspirational character in the vast constellation of Saddleback-haters is Eric Epp.  A psychiatric technician and bi-vocational pastor from Stockton, California, Epp is dramatizing his antipathy for Rick Warren by walking to the conference—a 2,600-mile hike.  “The Warren Walk” sounds inoccuous enough, evoking the genteel spectre of a theologically-orthodox Johnny Appleseed.   But as E.F. Dorrish is quick to point out, Epp’s walkathon, in addition to mobilizing support for the Saddlebash Conference,  is also a barometer of anti-Saddleback sentiment in the hinterlands. “Everywhere he walks, townspeople come out to greet him. ‘We hate Rick Warren, too!’ they say.  ‘Go, Eric, go!’”

In some instances, Mr. Epp has been given the keys to the city by local officials. “You tell those folks in Buffalo that Rick Warren might be the Anti-Christ,” said one supporter in Yankton, South Dakota.  “I will,” responded the 40-year-old blogger and psych tech politely.  Unsurprisingly, Mr. Epp, who has never met Pastor Dorresh personally, will be giving the keynote at Saddlebash. 

Toronto Blessing?  Hardly.  These Canadian protest-
ors are expected to cross the border to join American
Saddleback-haters in Buffalo next month.
The palpable, grass-roots wave of anti-Warren  animus isn’t restricted to U.S. soil, either, as recent events in Toronto, Canada, have demonstrated.  A small but vocal group of anti-Saddleback Canucks convened in Canada’s largest city last month, and many of those same protestors will be making the two-hour trek south of the border to meet up with their American co-haters. 

When they arrive, conferees will have their choice of dozens of paper presentations and panel discussions to attend, a partial list of which includes:

n Multi-tasking the Scriptures: How Rick Warren gets the bible to say anything he wants by using 3 dozen different translations

n Blazing Saddlebacks: How to spot infernal clone congregations in your area

n How reading Jonathan Edwards can inocculate you from charges of shaky theology

n “Desiring God vacate the premises”: John Piper and the Rubicon of Truth 

n The Other 91%: Why Rick Warren’s constant harping about how much he gives away constitutes giving away his heavenly reward

n Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”: The wonderful Dr. Mehmet Oz?

n The Warren Commission: How he’s suckering Christian leaders who should know better

n Circling-the-Wagons Prayer: How Saddleback tries to pray away troublesome Christian watchbloggers

Why is everybody always pickin' on
me? Charlie Brown has a lot to teach
Rick Warren--and Saddleback. A
sermon series is expected for the Fall
Asked to comment on Saddlebash I and its organizers, neither America’s Pastor nor his spokespeople returned phone calls from ST editorial offices.  But insiders, speaking off the record, suggest that the man is taking this all very hard.

“There’s a Charlie Brown–like disposition that he sometimes falls into.  Why are they all picking on me?  What did I do?  Oh well, they picked on the prophets, so I guess it’s okay.” 

One member of the seeker-driven fraternity, however, did return our calls.  Elevation Church’s Steven Futrick, whom some see as a young Rick Warren in the making, asked to comment on the situation, checked in with a one-word assessment: “Haters.”  


  1. Hilarious anecdote that exposes Warren's foolish unWarren-ted statements..Lol

  2. "ricky" warren influenced the woman whom i let adopt my grandson to not let him see me anymore because i am a i stand @ the saddleback bridge with my protest sign @ the weekend cross to bare for tossing my grandson into the cult....some cult members stop by to get my story....many from the street stop to give their support....the cult pastors lack enough faith to confront me, which is the paradox of faith driven cults.....

  3. You need to work on your photo shop.

  4. Don't have Photo Shop. If you think this is bad, you should see some of the other posts.