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Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose-Driven Life, will be preaching to a global audience over Christmas thanks to Rupert Murdoch and the U.S. Defense Department.

Over Christmas eve and Christmas day, Murdoch's Fox News Channel will air "The Purpose of Christmas with Rick Warren," a program based on the first of 13 weekend services at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. The Armed Services Television Network will air a similar message from Warren, potentially reaching 800,000 servicemen and their families stationed in more than 177 countries. A website ( www.thepeaceplan.com ) will direct viewers to local churches.

Last week, Tim Morgan, ct's deputy managing editor, spoke at length with Warren from New York City about his recent controversial trip to Syria, his commitment to fighting global poverty, and his plans for the new 40 Days of Vision to be launched in September 2007. This is an edited transcript.

World Net Daily columnist Joseph Farah has been hugely critical of your trip to Syria and your explanations, suggesting that you exhibit behavior "bordering on sociopathic." What's your reaction?

This is a fellow who's hooked his star to criticizing somebody. There's so many over-the-top things about it. There are lots of churches in Damascus [Syria]. I asked one person. He said maybe two or three hundred in Damascus. Most of them are the traditional churches. There's Syrian Orthodox and there's Greek Orthodox. But I met with the head of the evangelicals. He said they're getting ready to go into the building program because the Presbyterian church he leads—they've run out of space.

I will go anywhere in the world if I'm allowed to preach the gospel without hindrance. I'd go to Iran; ...

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December 2006

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