The question isn’t who won pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback forum, said Kathleen Parker in the Chicago Tribune. It’s why Barack Obama and John McCain submitted to a “religious interrogation by an evangelical minister” at all. Applying a religious test to presidential candidates is “un-American.”
There is “nothing wrong with quizzing candidates” on questions linked to values and faith, said the Riverside, Calif., daily Press-Enterprise in an editorial. McCain and Obama could have opted out, but they “recognized the forum as an opportunity to reach voters—not just Warren's congregation, but everyone who tuned in to watch.” And their answers were illuminating, so the forum served voters well.
The encounter at the Saddleback megachurch was illuminating because of what it said about America, not the candidates, said Alvaro Vargas Llosa in The New Republic. The “tension between the theocratic and the secular” has always been there—Virginia settlers nudged religion out of politics, and the Pilgrims wanted to “establish the kingdom of God.” The struggle remains “unresolved,” and that was “the 800-pound gorilla at the Saddleback forum.”