Did Rick Warren convert to Islam? No, no ... and no.

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Lake forest, Calif. The Megachurch has launched international campuses in Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and Berlin. A new piece of Internet satire is targeting Warren. It claims he has converted to Islam. | Saddleback Church

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (Christian Examiner) – The popular myth-busting site Snopes.com is working to clear up a report that one of America's most prominent pastors and authors – Rick Warren – has converted to Islam.

In an article published May 24, Snopes.com said a website called The End Times, which reportedly produces "Christian-focused fake news," claimed Warren had become a Muslim, changed his name to Muhammad Hussein Warren, and written a new iteration of his best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Church. The new book is called The Purpose-Driven Mosque, the report said.

The same site provided a look at the new faux-bestseller in a previous report the week before when it claimed Warren had written the book to "help Christians appreciate Islam and other false religions."

"In order to further promote and capitalize on the building Chrislam movement, through which Christians and Muslims are encouraged to seek out and embrace shared foundations of understanding, Saddleback Megachurch CEO Rick Warren has announced the release of a new book entitled The Purpose-Drive Mosque," that report said.

That the report was satire should have been apparent when it claimed the product was released while Warren was "standing in front of a giant mural depicting images of 11th century crusaders and Islamic warriors hugging and handing each other flowers while rainbows cover the sky above them and unicorns frolic around them."

The subsequent report on Warren's conversion said the pastor did not care what God was called, whether Allah or Yahweh (the Old Testament name which God used for himself). It added that a "scimitar polishing crowd of appreciative Muslims" looked on as Warren made his announcement that he had officially converted.

According to Snopes.com, The End Times claims it engages in satire and parody because too many sites offering the same motif focus their barbs toward conservative Christians. The site purports to take aim at those less than conservative. That makes The End Times a different type of satire site, Snopes.com said.

"While 'satirical' outlets generally bank on generating income through outraged clicks, The End Times maintains that their focus was to ensure the pool of fake articles is balanced to mock not only conservative Christians, but their liberal or non-religious counterparts, as well," Snopes.com reported.

Warren states on his website salvation is available only through Jesus Christ.

"Salvation is a gift from God to man," Warren's website claims. "Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works – only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God's offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin's penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith."

Still, rumors have swirled around Warren since 2012 when the Orange County Register claimed he believed Muslims and Christians view God in the same way. Warren issued a three-page response to the article debunking the claim.

He also told Christian Post, the sister publication of Christian Examiner:

"First, as I've already said, Christians have a fundamentally different view of God than Muslims. We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don't. Second, while we urge members to build friendships with Muslims and everyone in our community ("Love your neighbor as yourself"), our church has no partnership with any mosque. For example, I know that some of our members have led Bible study with Muslim friends, which I applaud. But I've never been to it, and it certainly isn't any kind of partnership or merger. It's crazy how a simple Bible study can be interpreted by some people as a plan for a new religion!"