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Megachurch pastor Rick Warren speaks out on God, guns and son's suicide

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18 2013 11:20 a.m. MDT

Rick Warren gave his first interview since his son’s suicide in April to CNN earlier this week.

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Rick Warren gave his first interview since his son’s suicide in April to CNN earlier this week. The evangelical Christian spoke about his son’s death, God and guns. The interview aired Tuesday night on "Piers Morgan Live."

"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said in the exclusive interview with CNN.

Warren said he doesn’t blame God for his son’s death and that Matthew Warren’s suicide was his own decision. Rick Warren also spoke to CNN specifically about his son’s suicide and detailed the events of discovering his death.

“I never questioned my faith in God; I questioned God’s plan,” Rick Warren said. “God isn’t to blame for my son’s death. My son took his life. It was his choice.”

Rick and Kathy Warren founded Saddleback Church in Southern California in 1980. While it started as a small congregation, the Warrens helped it attract more than 20,000 weekly worshippers.

Author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has sold more than 32 million copies, Rick Warren also commented to CNN on the recent shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

The interview and discussion of guns led to one writer at Religious News Service to question whether or not Rick Warren will lead a Christian movement for gun control. Warren spoke about how his son first tried to purchase a gun legally but was denied because of "a red flag on his background check for having been forcibly admitted to a mental institution," the RNS article said.

“We’re grateful that the laws kept Matthew from getting the gun for as long as it did,” Rick Warren said in the CNN interview.

On Wednesday, Warren published his own remarks about the CNN interview in which he said that Piers Morgan, who interviewed the pastor for CNN, said it was the most moving interview he had ever done.

He added that the CNN team came to the Warrens' Acts of Mercy family foundation office in Mission Viejo, Calif., to tape the interview.

“The interview was raw and real,” Warren wrote. “The CNN crew and our staff watched almost breathlessly. For an entire hour, you could’ve heard a pin drop, everyone was so riveted by what God was doing through the conversation.”

Daniel Burke outlined five things you need to know about Rick Warren and his family, including that the Warrens lead the sixth largest church in the United States, they are extremely active in social justice causes and that Rick Warren delivered the invocation at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural.

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite offered a critique of Morgan’s interview, saying that the host should have shared important information about what mental health professionals suggest about those who are threatening to commit suicide.

The Christian Messenger analyzed the interview and how the Warrens’ words play into an ongoing debate about how much churches should do in regards to preventing suicide.

About 50 percent of evangelicals believe prayer can heal mental illness, and 64 percent agree that churches should do more to prevent suicide in the United States, according to a LifeWay research poll released on Sept. 7 that the Christian Messenger referenced.

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

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