December 11, 2008
Richard Cizik Resigns from the National Association of Evangelicals
Cizik’s resignation comes after he said he was shifting on same-sex unions.
Richard Cizik resigned Wednesday night as vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Christianity Today has posted a news story on its main site and an interview with Leith Anderson, president of the NAE.
Cizik's resignation comes shortly after a December 2 interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Most of the interview focused on the environment, but Cizik made brief remarks about same-sex civil unions, gay marriage, and his early support of President-elect Barack Obama. Here is a portion of the interview with Terry Gross:
You say you really identify with the concerns and priorities of younger evangelical voters, and one of those priorities is more of an acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage. 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 and more with younger voters and their priorities; have you changed on gay marriage?
I'm shifting I have to admit. In other words I would willingly say I believe in civil unions. I don't officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don't think. We have this tension going on in our movement between what is church-building and what is nation-building. And I lean in this spectrum at times - maybe we should concentrate on building values in our own movement. We have become so absorbed in the question of gay rights and the rest that we fail to understand the challenges and threats to marriage itself - heterosexual marriage. Maybe we need to re-evaluate this and look at it a little differently. I'm always looking for ways to reframe issues, give the biblical point of view a different slant, if you will, and look it, we have to. The whole world, literally, the planet is changing around us, and if you don't change the way you think and adapt, especially to things like climate change, scientists like Bob Dopple he says well if you don't adapt and change your thinking you may ultimately be a loser, because climate change in his mind - he's a systems analyst - has the capacity to determine the winners and the losers, and your life will never be the same, growing up during I say the great warming. Our grandparents grew up during the great depression, our parents, well they lived in the aftermath of that and became maybe the greediest generation, and our generation, this younger one, needs to be the greenest.
Stephen Waldman of Beliefnet raised this question that I want to put to you. Barack Obama supports the right to have an abortion, but he also advocates reducing the number of abortions when possible. Will you support him in abortion reduction or do you see that as a diversion from the work of banning or restricting abortion?
I will support him. I will support Barack Obama in finding ways to reduce the number of abortions, absolutely.
Now is that controversial within the evangelical movement?
For some, yes. I've already been called one of the devil's minions for taking this position because it seems compromising, but that's again that winner take all mentality that you have to have it all. In politics I have learned over many years less is more. I think finding those who are in trouble, in crisis, helping them through this and if need be even supplying what government presently doesn't do, namely contraception, is an answer to reducing unintended pregnancies.
Wait, wait. I think I heard you say government supplying contraception. That's got to be controversial.
Among some it would be, but I don't think so. We are not, as I have said previously, we are not Catholics who oppose contraception per se. And let's face it, what do you want? Do you want an unintended pregnancy that results in abortion or do you want to meet a woman's needs in crisis, who frankly, would by better contraception avoid that choice, avoid that abortion that we all recognize is morally repugnant - at least it is to me.