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In 2008, the church sponsored a presidential forum with Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain. Mr. Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney were invited to a similar forum last fall, but Mr. Warren canceled it several days beforehand, saying the campaign had become too uncivil.

Mr. Warren was named the top newsmaker of the year for 2009 by the Religion Newswriters Association. He gained attention that year with his invocation at Mr. Obama’s inauguration, as well as with comments he made in the aftermath of California’s Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage.