Davos Surprise: Rick Warren

The biggest surprise of Davos so far for me? Rick Warren. Being a cosmopolitan atheist type, I’d heard of him, of course, but thought he was, well, author of a bestselling self-help book and pastor of a megachurch somewhere. What I didn’t realise was that he’s been coming to Davos for years, and that he can work his magic on Masters of the Universe – and cynical hacks – just as much as he can on his congregation at home.

"If you’re a global leader, you have to realise that the future of the world is not secularism," he said at a panel on faith and modernity moderated by Tony Blair. "There is going to be more religion, not less. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is."

Warren had some good one-liners: "The church was global 200 years before Davos started talking about globalization," he said. And he was very compelling on the ability of religious institutions to help solve the enormous public-health problems of sub-Saharan Africa. After all, they’re there, on the ground, in the communities that need reaching – and they have credibility with the poor that no one else has.

In terms of being able to pitch his remarks perfectly at the level of the audience to whom he is talking, I’d say that Warren is up at Bill Clinton levels. Who knew?

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