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Pastor Rick Warren joins board advising Marco Rubio's presidential campaign

Pastor Rick Warren joins board advising Marco Rubio's presidential campaign

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Rick Warren, the nationally prominent Orange County pastor who founded Saddleback Church, has agreed to serve on a board that is advising the presidential campaign of GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Warren will advise Rubio and his campaign on domestic and international religious liberty as a member of the board, which includes people from a variety of professional backgrounds with diverse theological traditions, said Eric Teetsel, director of faith outreach for the Rubio campaign.

Teetsel told the Register on Monday that Warren was selected because he is “one of the nation’s foremost advocates of religious liberty.”

Warren, whose Lake Forest-based megachurch has spread to 12 Southern California campuses and four international campuses, said participation on the board does not amount to an endorsement of Rubio. The pastor said it is public knowledge he has never endorsed a political candidate and doesn’t intend to.

“It is not my job as a pastor to endorse candidates,” Warren said. “But I do offer private counsel and perspective to any candidate who asks for it. I have done this with many candidates in the past. In this election cycle, I know most of the candidates on both sides who are running for president, and many have been friends for years, but they all know that I never endorse.”

The advisory board was created to ensure that Rubio and his team are being advised by America’s top experts on religious liberty, Teetsel said.

Although he hasn’t endorsed candidates, Warren is no stranger to national politics. In January 2009, he gave the invocation for President-elect Barack Obama.

Over the years, he also has interviewed several notable national and international speakers as part of his Civil Forums at Saddleback Church.

In 2008, Warren hosted his first presidential campaign forum, between Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

In August 2012, Warren canceled a Civil Forum planned with Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Saddleback Church because of what Warren saw as uncivil discourse between the two campaigns. Instead, he planned a forum on the importance of religious freedom that year.

In an interview with the Register at the time, Warren spoke about the importance of religious freedom.

“This issue is more significant and has far greater implications for America’s future,” he said. “People have forgotten that America was founded by people who came here to escape religious persecution. Freedom of religion is the first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights – before freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and every other freedom.”

Original post can be read here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/warren-699485-religious-rubio.html