Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay suffered immense tragedy on Friday when their 27-year-old son, Matthew, was lost to suicide. News of the incident quickly spread, with national news outlets picking up the story and with Christians and religious people fervently praying for the Warren family and for the Saddleback Church community at large.
But while the majority of the nation was saddened by the event, it seems some used it as an opportunity to attack the pastor over his views on social and political issues.
This undated photo provided by the Saddleback Valley Community Church shows Matthew Warren, the son of Pastor Rick Warren. Credit: AP
The vitriol was so ferocious that even the USA Today covered it on Sunday, with the outlet writing, "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."
And that's putting it lightly. Here's just a snapshot into some of the nasty, insensitive and disturbing commentary, as captured by the outlet:
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.
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.
But it's not just a snippet of the pro-gay marriage movement that is taking aim at the Warrens. Others -- even self-describing Christian -- are apparently taking to social media to highlight their belief that there is no salvation for those who commit suicide. Thus, they are alleging that Matthew, based on the method of his tragic death, won't be heaven-bound.
As for the tweet seeking comment from gay activist Dan Savage (fourth down from the top), the Twitter user named Darrell Bucket did get a response -- but not the one he was likely seeking. Savage wrote, "My only comment is this: As a parent, my heart aches for Rick Warren and his wife. They have my sympathy."
Choosing to ignore these hurtful comments, Warren has responded to more favorable statements and prayers on Twitter, thanking people who are encouraging his family for their support.
(H/T: One News Now)