Thousands are responding to Pastor Rick Warren's grief with compassion but others use the moment to attack him and his Christian message.Pastor Rick Warren, the best-known name in American evangelism after Rev. Billy Graham, lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide this week.
Uncounted strangers have joined the 20,000 congregants who worship at the megachurch network "Pastor Rick" built in Southern California, Warren's nearly 1 million Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers in flooding social media with consolation
But a shocking number are taking this moment of media attention to lash out at Warren on the digital tom-toms. The attacks are aimed at him personally and at his Christian message
Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew's bereaved mother, that there's no heaven where they'll meet their son again.
STORY: Pastor Rick Warren's son commits suicide
You can find, among hundreds of comments on USA TODAY's news story on Matthew's death, comments such as the Cincinnati poster who says, "Either there is no God, or God doesn't listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people." In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to "abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us."
Some rush to add pain to the Warrens' world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion for the unremitting pain suffered by gay youths rejected by parents and peers. They were outraged when Warren took a political stand for Prop 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Others have appointed themselves 140-character theologians in a debate over whether someone once saved can lose his or her salvation if suicide is against God's law. These posters, rather than waiting for Judgment Day, have ruled for hell.
But Bruce Kwiatkowski of the
John Schuurman observed on Facebook that celebrity culture makes everyone "fair game" and the anonymity afforded by social media that allows people to "send out hate flames without any consequence."
There are, however, people who won't let the vitriol unleashed on social media infect the little corners of the world under their own name.
John H. Armstrong fought back on Facebook, saying, "I just blocked someone that I do not know from my wall for saying that Rick Warren's son went to hell. What is it with people being so sure that they know God's final judgment? I fear for people like this. This man added that Rick Warren was being judged for being a 'false prophet.' Pathetic, cruel and reckless all come to mind. If I've seen the evidence of a false prophet this comes close."
Although an atheist to the extreme, I feel deeply embarrassed and apologetic for the atheists that exploited this tragedy to score unseemly, and disgusting atheist talking points. I recommend they receive the lash to teach them compassion and better manners. Disgusting. I am serious about subjecting these to 10 lashes of a bullwhip. I appreciate the benefits and purposes of religion, and am among the atheists that do not bash it. I am an "intelligent atheist," I suppose, compared to the "crude atheists" out there. Yet, anyone who cannot show sympathy to someone who has just lost a son is beyond the pale.
I use the word, malignant, in a manner similar to that used in cancer diagnosis. The cancer is of a type that will invade, spread, and kill the patient. Two treatments have usually been tried for malignant suicidal urges. One wonders if he had benefit of these, electro-convulsive therapy and powerful major tranquilizers all the way up to clozapine.