Rick Warren angers many on social media with Red Guard propaganda post


Holding the unofficial title of “America’s Pastor” brings a lot of perks. It also brings a lot of eyeballs watching your every move, as Rick Warren found out this week with a controversial post he put up on Facebook and Twitter.

Rick Warren America's Pastor

Social media is permanent when you’re famous. It doesn’t matter how quickly you delete a post. Someone saw it, took a screen shot, and will be posting about it on their blog shortly.

When Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren posted an image of a happy Chinese military woman who appeared eager to do her duty, he captioned it with the words, “The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day”. Unfortunately, the image was taken from a propaganda poster used by the Mao Zedong regime during the Great Leap Forward, a four-year portion of 20th century Chinese history that resulted in the deaths of over 40 million people.

Chinese pastor and blogger, Dr. Sam Tsang, pointed out the cultural and historical insensitivity of Warren’s posts on his blog:

Imagine, Mr. Warren, the Chinese in your congregation both here in the US and in Hong Kong.  Do you know what narrative is behind this picture you just posted?  Has any Red Guard ever raped your mother?  How about having your joints dislocated and quartered by horses?  Oh, this is a great one.  How about having your arms hung up in an awkward position until they’re dislocated while being beaten merciless with all sorts of torturous devices?  How about being made to stand near naked in freezing temperature outside?  If Mr. Warren is trying depict the Great Leap forward by Mao, does he know that more than 40 million Chinese died in that campaign?

Warren’s initial response to the criticism he was receiving on his Facebook post (which received over 4000 likes) was one of indignation. “It’s a joke people!” he proclaimed.

Here is a screenshot of the post on Facebook and one of Warren’s replies. He did remove the posts from Facebook and Twitter, but not before they had been live for 9 or 10 hours on Monday.

Korean Christian blogger Kathy Khang was as offended by Warren’s comments and the comments of his supporters as she was offended by the posts themselves.

Please reconsider your comments that essentially told many of your brothers and sisters in Christ to get over it, to get a sense of humor, to lighten up, etc. Please take a moment to hear us out because you don’t get to tell me to laugh about the Communist Red Army because it isn’t funny. There is no irony. Do not compare me and others to the self-righteous who did not get Jesus’ humor as you did in your FB defense.

Social media requires a certain level of care, particularly when over half a million people like your page. Nobody is suggesting that Warren intended to promote such a dark time in Chinese history, particularly while he’s in the process of opening a new Saddleback Church in Hong Kong. They are, however, suggesting that his posts and lack of a true apology are signs that he may care more about popularity than his faith.

  1. I’m not really “Chinese”. I’m American. I don’t pastor. I’ve worked as an academic for a number of years overseas. I might be an immigrant but I think i should be considered 100% American. Thanks for posting.

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