McCain, Obama & Rick Warren - The "Purpose-Driven Debate"

Mark Avery/Reuters/Newscom
U.S. Senator Barrack Obama (D-IL), makes Pastor Rick Warren (R) laugh during a news conference at the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS and the Church at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California December 1, 2006.

Whose side is God on? Although that probably won't be determined tonight, we will see Barack Obama and John McCain on stage together for the first time this political season.

Brought together by the best-selling author and pastor of the fourth largest church in the U.S., pastor Rick Warren will talk to both candidates tonight for about an hour each.

The focus is on faith. Specifically, as Monitor colleague Jane Lampman reported earlier this week, Mr. Warren's questions will focus on how the candidates lead and make decisions and will cover five topics: leadership, stewardship, worldview, compassion issues, and their vision for America.

The format is somewhat similar to a game show with Warren playing the part of Wink Martindale. One candidate in a soundproof bubble (or room) while the other candidate is on stage. Obama is up first and then McCain. The order was determined by a coin-flip.

They will be asked the same questions and their personal life is on the table because "character matters," Warren said.

"I'm going to ask them questions about character, competence, about values, vision, virtue, about their convictions in leadership, about their experience," Warren told the Christian Broadcasting Network yesterday.

Warren told the New York Times that a typical question could be "What's the most difficult decision you've had to make, and how did you make it?"

Warren said to expect questions on abortion and marriage too.

"The person who says well I'm going to put my faith on the shelf and not let it affect my decisions as President is either lying or they're ignorant because you can't do it," he said. "Every one of your decisions you make is based on your world view. So I'm going to ask them about abortion. I'm going to ask them about the definition of marriage, but I'm also going to ask them more than that in that third section on "World View."

How did this event get put together? Warren just called them on his cell phone.

The event will start at 8pm on CNN, FOX and CSPAN. It will also be streamed live on .

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