Hillary Clinton will appear at noted pastor Rick Warren’s evangelical church later this month to take part in Warren’s increasingly popular Global Summit on AIDS and the Church.
Officials at Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said Sen. Clinton was the first of six presidential candidates invited to confirm participation.
The summit - hosted by Warren, author of the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life” and his wife, Kay - will be held Nov. 27 through Dec. 1.
"I commend Rick and Kay Warren for their work to fight HIV/AIDS," Sen. Clinton said in a statement. "Our churches have a powerful role to play in raising the consciousness of the nation and the world to this pandemic and urge compassion for the sick and the suffering.
“When we come together, seeking the common good, we can find solutions to our biggest challenges and reinforce our faith that a call to action can change lives,” Clinton said.
The Warrens have also invited Democratic candidates John Edwards and Barack Obama as well as GOP hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney. All five have expressed interest in the summit and are working on “scheduling issues,” according to church officials.
"Inviting politicians from different perspectives to the summit is not a political decision - it is a humanitarian and Christian action," says Warren. "When millions are dying each year, we are interested in lives, not labels. We want everyone to become concerned about the AIDS pandemic."
Sen. Sam Brownback and Obama spoke at Warren’s AIDS summit last year, even taking HIV tests at a press conference at the event.
Warren says he started the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church because he felt that the global AIDS crisis could never be solved without mobilizing the Churches' global distribution network, massive pool of volunteers and local credibility in villages around the world.
Clinton’s agreement to appear at the evangelical church comes as she and others make more frequent references to her religious and spiritual side.
In his new book “God and Hillary Clinton,” author Paul Kengor says the former First Lady has adhered to the Methodist doctrine around which she was raised. She often turned to the church in times of personal crisis, Kengor writes.
“She has gone to church regularly since childhood, and surely wasn't playing politics when she was baptized as an infant and going to Vacation Bible School," Kengor wrote in USA Today
“She has openly professed the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith — from belief in the resurrection to the Trinity — prays, reads the Bible, studies the Methodist Church's Book of Discipline, frequently attends and has even led Bible studies,” says Kengor.
This year's AIDS summit at Sadddleback Church will feature more than 50 speakers and experts. Side sessions will include leaders from business, government, medicine, non-profit and ministry sectors who are working locally and globally to stem the AIDS pandemic.
"The HIV/AIDS pandemic is so large that it can't be stopped without the combined efforts of leadership in the public, private/profit and faith sectors," says Kay Warren. "Obviously, that includes whoever is elected as the next president of the United States.
“We are urging all of the current presidential candidates to continue and expand the international efforts of AIDS relief of the current administration,” she says. “To stop what has been started would mean the deaths of literally millions of women, children and men who are alive today solely because of treatment and prevention strategies available through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
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