Rick Warren: Private funeral held for son to avert protesters

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) -- California Pastor Rick Warren says "haters" responding to his son's suicide prompted the family to hold a private funeral last week.

A letter from Warren was read to his Saddleback Church congregation at Sunday services. In it, he said his family's "grieving has been public, and grieving when haters celebrate your pain has been even more difficult."

An outpouring of sympathy online followed news that 27-year-old Matthew Warren had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

But some critics of Rick Warren mocked the author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." Some said Matthew was eternally condemned for taking his own life. Others ridiculed any belief in heaven or suggested the pastor got what he deserved for opposing gay marriage.

Rick Warren told his congregation in the letter, "We wish we could have held a public memorial service, but with the likelihood of both the media and demonstrators showing up, our family opted for a small private service."
 

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