Amid Sympathy for Pastor Rick Warren, Some Attack His Christian Faith

By Susan Jones | April 8, 2013 | 6:28 AM EDT

Pastor Rick Warren said in a statement Saturday, April 6, 2013, that Warren's 27-year-old son, Matthew Warren, had committed suicide after struggling with mental illness and depression. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

( - Pastor Rick Warren posted a message on Twitter Sunday, saying he and his wife Kay "are overwhelmed" by the "love, prayers and kind words" sent to them following the suicide of his 27-year-old son Matthew, who struggled with mental illness and depression.

But according to USA Today, "a shocking number" of people are attacking Warren personally on social media.

USA Today reported on Monday: "Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew's bereaved mother, that there's no heaven where they'll meet their son again."

Hateful messages also appeared in the newspaper's "comments" section, where one Cincinnati poster wrote: "Either there is no God, or God doesn't listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people."

In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to "abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us."

USA Today noted that some people are rushing to "add pain to the Warrens' world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion" for the pain suffered by homosexual youths rejected by their parents and peers. These people were outraged, USA Today said, "when Warren took a political stand for Proposition 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court."

The Warrens said in an email to church staff on Saturday that their son had taken his own life in a "momentary wave of despair." It said he had long struggled to control his emotional pain despite years of prayers and the best available treatment.

"Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many," the email said. "Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts."

An autopsy is planned for Tuesday; the cause of death has not been released.

Rich Warren founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. in 1980, and beyond his mega-church fame, he is the best-selling author of "The Purpose Driven Life."

He delivered the opening prayer at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2008.

(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)