Rick Warren takes on religious freedom at Georgetown University

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, told a crowd at Georgetown University that restrictions on religious freedom are dangerous and that President Obama's birth control mandate is a direct attack on religious liberty.

Warren spoke at Georgetown's forum on religious liberty, hosted by the Religious Freedom Project, at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs in Washington, D.C.

"If I don't have the freedom to believe what I want to believe, then freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press are all irrelevant," Warren said. "And it is so important that we don't let anyone tear these freedoms away."

He noted that religion is far more than the freedom to worship, it's the freedom to practice what you believe and convert others.

"If you are truly a religious person, your religion affects every area of your life: how you spend your time, how you run your business, how you spend your money, how you educate your children. You can't leave your religion at the church or temple door. It has to be allowed in every area of your life," Warren said.

Warren commented on a previous statement in which he predicted that religious freedom will become the civil rights movement of the decade. He said that freedoms are very fragile and thousands of little "bits" are being eliminated.

Warren called the birth control mandate an attack on religious freedom and said that if the mandate remains in place, his church's health clinic would be required to cover abortifacients in its health plan, even though he believes abortion is immoral.

"The audacity of the government telling the Church how to do health care — we've been doing it longer than any government." Warren said.

Warren also noted that if pastors are barred from praying at public functions because of their beliefs on homosexuality, then 99 percent of American pastors will be excluded from expressing their first amendment right of religious freedom.