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Why Rick Warren's Facebook Photo Angered Asian American Christians

Failed attempt at humor comes as Saddleback prepares to launch Hong Kong campus.
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Rick Warren's recent Facebook post featuring an image of a Chinese Red Guard prompted criticism from Asian American Christians this week.

The propaganda photo depicted a smiling, uniformed young worker, part of the Cultural Revolution in communist ...

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Displaying 1–21 of 21 comments

Paula Coyle

October 15, 2013  4:31pm

Rick Warren Urges Christians to Be Dedicated as Hitler Youth #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fzwljL2LTQ Rick Warren Urges Followers To Emulate Hitler Youth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92z_54tpI0o Doesn't this remind anyone of the ending of "Die Welle" (The Wave)?

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John Chu

October 03, 2013  10:29pm

Rick Warren Fight Back... http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/9c419/ Fast forward to 19:30

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Louis Hemmings

October 03, 2013  6:37am

speaking as an Irishman, American evangelicals are just not good at cross-cultural "humour". i've experienced it first hand. it sucks! America is no longer "land of the free", if it ever was. it also no longer has a one-time dominant-role in the future of Christianity, thank God! believe it or not, God is a bit bigger than the USA :)

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Christoph Koebel

October 02, 2013  10:07pm

Well I'm neither an American nor Asian. It is another example of insensitivity by a (well-known) American.

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DAVID HAN

October 02, 2013  6:14pm

I am an American Chinese that had been in the US since the 1960s. When I read the respond of Pastor Warren, asking everyone to have a sense of humor, I wonder what Pastor Warren found so humorous about that picture? Is it the act of posting that picture humorous, and I hope it is not the starting of a church in Hong Kong humorous. If we read the history of mission in China, we found many example of missionaries not understanding the culture of China. Their intention was good, but they did not receive much blessing from God toward their ministry. I hope we will not make that mistake again.

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N Tallman

September 30, 2013  9:56am

Please remember ---- There is only ONE PERFECT LIVING PERSON----only one person who never makes a mistake, JESUS CHRIST. May we read God's word and prayerfully live our lives as He would want.

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Gee Lowe

September 29, 2013  8:34am

The RW incident also appeared on A US Chinese news media yesterday. As of writing, the piece has garnered already 53 comments from the readers. I did a quick count. Of the 53 comments about roughly half of them directly mentioned how the reader directly feel about RW's posting of the photo. 20 expressed that they DIDN'T feel anything negative. 3 expressed direct negative feelings. 9 made comments correcting the mistaken identity. The rest were comments on something else. If this unscientific statistics is of any indication, the Chinese American community, those who can read Chinese, can accept the RW humor about the photo. It goes on to show that the so-called Asian American community is a very diverse group, with drastically different reactions to similar social events. We must not overlook this. The protestors and the AA "leaders" who claimed to be hurt and demanded apology from RW, with all due respect and love, are but a segment from the AA community.

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audrey ruth

September 29, 2013  4:26am

Rick Warren said, "IF [Asian Americans] were hurt, upset, offended, or distressed..."??? It was abundantly clear by the reactions of Asian Americans that they WERE hurt, upset, offended and distressed by Warren's comment. Good grief, man, just own what you did without excuse and issue a sincere apology without any attempt to downplay the offense. This will garner you true respect.

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FANG XIE

September 28, 2013  9:47pm

Yes, this photo is not about red guard in cultural revolution, but red army during China civil war. But they were not fighting for freedom, they were fighting for communism, which is a evil social system that committed holocaust and many other crimes. In another word, though they might had a good intention but the consequence is horrible. I believe German SS soldiers also have good intentions but the consequence is horrible. Regardless of whether this photo is about red guard or red army, Rev. Rick should not use a photo that carries strong political and anti-human offensive sign to express his religious passion.

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james chang

September 28, 2013  7:48am

Those who attack Mr Warren's photo are barking on the wrong tree. That photo is nothing relate to Red Guard in Culture Revelation. That is female soldier fighting for freedom. The soldier fighting building up the Republic of China. Those who use the photo to attack other with wrong knowledge should make apologies.

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Gee Lowe

September 28, 2013  1:09am

As it turns out, the woman was not a Red Guard, but a young peasant daughter who escaped from the the oppression of a local Landlord and later became a revolution heroine, and joined the Red Detachment of Women. She actually lived in the 1930s and had no involvement with the Cultural Revolution. Her story nevertheless was used and turned into a popular film that saw release in 1964, one may say, for propaganda purpose for the fledgling Mao regime. When Nixon visited China, he was entertained with a ballet version of the story. The woman in the picture posted by Warren is actually a ballerina, symbolized hope and courage for the new China. Therefore, in this Rick Warren incident, both sides were ignorant of what they are talking about. Talk about "cultural insensitivity", lol.

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Dick Carroll

September 27, 2013  6:05pm

When I saw the cartoon, the other day I couldn't believe it. But then again I have studied China and it's recent history more than most. On the surface the cartoon portrayed young happy idealistic Red Guards out to change the world. But the evil of Mao led to the death of millions and what many now call the "lost years". That is so far from everything that Rick Warren has stood for that I know on second thought he hated that he had put it out there. It reminds me of the preacher who innocently uses a double entendre only realizing the double meaning when he hears the congregation's response. Let him who never miss-spoke cast the first stone. I know this gives me pause in what I put on the internet...Oh Wait, maybe I shouldn't have written this! Too late! It's out there for eternity.

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James Rapp

September 27, 2013  4:55pm

Mr. Warren has apologized and may yet apologize again. For some though who "want their pound of flesh" no apology will sooth their wounded souls. Unfortunately there are those who find comfort in being "wounded". We will see the true spirit of Christ displayed by those who forgive him, let go of their grievance, and continue to respect him as a sincere and tireless advocate of the Gospel all around the world. Warren will need to go on with or without their forgiveness. It would be easier for him to do so with their forgiveness.

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Richard Cameron

September 27, 2013  4:44pm

Ted ... er, Hudson Taylor was British.

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Ted Hewlett

September 27, 2013  4:33pm

Regarding John Holecek's post, I think that is offensive, ironically in view of the fact that he is rebuking someone for a book that he regards as offensive. John, I find your denominational narrowness offensive when you make such a highly generalized statement as "American Evangelicals haven't a clue." You accuse them of lack of adaptation to varying cultures (using information from some time past), and then go on to advocate a uniformity of worship for the whole world. (How much cultural adaption does that show?) Converts to a particular church are often the most narrow-minded, but I will not judge Catholics or Orthodox by John's statements. I know adherents of both churches who do not share John's viewpoint, but recognize good in other Christian groups, while differing from them in many things. Hudson Taylor, a 19th Century Evangelical missionary to China, was a prime example of cultural adaptation, adopting Chinese food and dress, etc.--even the pigtail worn at that time.

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Richard Cameron

September 27, 2013  4:31pm

Hong Kong, Berlin, Buenos Aires .... don't these Mega-church folk realise that there's already churches in these places? I've no doubt they'll be 'successful', after sucking in folk from other churches who can't compete resource-wise. Why don't they go somewhere that doesn't have big churches already? ... like Iran, or Gaza or Saudi Arabia. Or does the consumer model of church only work in safe places?

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Mark Matthias

September 27, 2013  3:05pm

Romans 6:6 tells us: "...knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." Likewise, 1 John 5:18 tells us no one born of God sins -- the verb is in the continuous present tense. One one born of God continually sins, which is a committed practice. That is a gradual process. There is a difference between being a "slave" to sin; and a believer who occasionally stumbles. We all know that old nature does periodically raise it troublesome head. In these cases, if your brother offends you, and sincerely asks for forgiveness we must forgive. Even if we do not commit acts of sin. we are still in a state of sin; and cannot afford to drop our guards in view of the relentless operation of the devil.

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John Holecek

September 27, 2013  2:48pm

American Evangelicals haven't a clue. They think their mode of worship is the norm for the rest of the world. In 1988, while still a Protestant, I attended a Sunday worship in a Chinese Baptist Church in Beijing. It was an exact duplicate of Baptist worship in the U.S. in the 1940s. I remember thinking that there was not the slightest trace of enculturation. When Promise Keepers was intending to move the program to Europe, I thought to myself, "They haven't a chance." The fact is that for the 2,000 years of Christianity over 90% of Christians have been either Catholic or Orthodox. One of the joys of celebrating Mass anywhere in the world is the uniformity of worship. Some would say that means stifling the Holy Spirit. I would counter that it's true worship as opposed to entertainment (mega-churches, are you listening?) centered on the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you."

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Don Dixon

September 27, 2013  1:26pm

Cross-cultural insensitivity is mostly a natural human symptom or outcome of legitimate ignorance of many, if not most, aspects of another culture, including its history. We can easily forget some things, or forget to filter thoughts, comments and actions through what we do know about another culture and its people from being tired, busy or in a whimsical mood. That was pretty clearly the case with Rick Warren's post. I've been in other countries for the better part of 23 years and I can tell you that anyone and everyone of us makes these mistakes in reference to the people of other cultures and even regional customs within their own country very, very often. Thankfully we don't all have the numbers following us that Rick Warren has. Apologies are a must when such is brought to our attention. So is forgiveness without blaming the person for every time this common occurrence(ever since the tower of Babel) has ever occurred to you or your people/culture. (John 16:33)

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Sarah Smith

September 26, 2013  9:39pm

While believers should always seek to be sensitive to the real and deep pains of others, grace does go both ways. When we are offended or deeply hurt, we should choose to believe the best about the person who offended us. We should not spread the knowledge of the offense. If our brother or sister is too dense to know that something is offensive to others, we should lovingly go to them, help them see the error of their ways, and help them to do better in the future. Should Rick Warren have posted that photo, no. Still, the godly response is not to question his character or tell a bunch of people about his error.

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Frank Tan

September 26, 2013  6:08pm

I have appreciated the ministry of Saddleback and Rick Warren but do not follow Rick Warren personally, thus I missed the original Facebook post. Thanks to CT for reporting and bringing me up to speed. It is unfortunate that his initial response to those who spoke up was to tell them to get a sense of humor. I can assume his original use of the photo was meant to be humorous, although it speaks of a degree of ignorance of other people's culture (which is pretty common in evangelical Christianity and not a major fault). But his first response towards criticism communicates indifference at best, and insensitivity and lack of humility at worst. (Actually, that's not the worst that could be inferred. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.)

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