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"Nastiness" Causes Rick Warren To Cancel Obama-Romney Forum (Updated)

Saddleback Church pastor says civility is "not the climate of today's campaign."

(Editor's note: CNN reports an alternative explanation to the forum's cancellation: Both the Obama and Romney campaigns lacked interest.)

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren pulled the plug Tuesday on a civil forum featuring President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The forum, which would have been hosted at Warren's Saddleback Church near Los Angeles, was scheduled to take place later this week.

In his announcement, Warren said the campaign's current climate, highlighted by "irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads," is not what a civil forum aims to promote: respect between those with differences. He said he does not expect that climate of incivility to change before the election.

"It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day," he said.

Saddleback originally scheduled the event after a similar forum before the 2008 presidential election, which featured Obama and Sen. John McCain, received positive feedback from critics and good network ratings. In place of the presidential event, Saddleback announced that it will host a civil forum on religious freedom in September.

CT previously reported on different reactions to Warren's invocation at Obama's inauguration in 2009, and interviewed Warren following the backlash to his presidential prayer.

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