Richard Cizik is probably still seen as intolerant from this side of the fence since he’s still not sure about that whole “gay marriage” thing. But he does support civil unions.
He was on NPR’s Fresh Air last week:
In a short portion of the program, [host Terry] Gross asked him, “A couple of years ago when you were on our show, I asked you if you were changing your mind on that. And two years ago, you said you were still opposed to gay marriage. But now as you identify more with younger voters, would you say you have changed on gay marriage?”
Cizik responded, “I’m shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. I don’t officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don’t think.”
As vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), those views are unacceptable to the others in charge.
To them, it was as if Cizik went in front of the press and said there was actually something to be said for the theory of evolution…
On Wednesday, he resigned from his position. Forced to resign, really. Too many evangelical Christians were complaining about his sudden streaks of near-tolerance and almost-equality-for-all.
That’s too bad. I want to believe there were many more evangelicals who agreed with Cizik than any of them would care to admit. But the NAE doesn’t take too kindly to any reference to them being lenient on the issue of homosexuality.
This is, after all, the organization that was headed by male-escort-loving Ted Haggard not too long ago.
The civil union comment wasn’t the only thing that have evangelicals riled up.
Cizik’s statements on climate change — “that evangelicals have a biblical responsibility to the environment that includes combatting global warming” — are apparently shocking to them as well.
Last year, Dobson and other Christian conservatives unsuccessfully pressured the NAE to silence Cizik about global warming.
“It was time for him to go,” Tom Minnery, a Focus on the Family senior vice president, said Thursday. “He no longer represents the view of evangelicalism. He has not represented those views for some time.”
More tradition-minded evangelical activists believe an environmental focus distracts attention from abortion and gay marriage, or they don’t believe in global warming or that human activity causes it.
I do hope Cizik plays a role in shifting Christian attitudes. It’d be nice if more Christians who agreed with him would speak up.
I’m also wondering how this sort of debacle would play out in the atheist world. What if the president of an atheist organization went on TV and said that he still wrestled with the strong evidence he found for certain claims in Genesis? Or that he felt America was indeed founded as a Christian nation?
Would membership drop for his group? Would he be forced to step down? Would you still think he was a “true atheist”?
It’s not like we have the membership of the NAE — and it’s likely that no one outside our circles would even care — but I’m just trying to find the appropriate analogy.