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Top Evangelical Leader Resigns After Voicing Support for Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

December 11th, 2008

Richard CizikRichard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, resigned today following widespread criticism from fellow evangelicals over his Dec 2. interview on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program. Cizik drew outrage by saying that he is “shifting” on the issue of same-sex marriage, saying “I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions.”

Cizik also acknowledged that he voted for President-elect Barack Obama during the primaries, pointing out that younger evangelicals are more willing to support a pro-choice political candidate based on other issues such as health care. He also said he supported the government distributing contraceptives to bring down the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Following the interview, Lieth Anderson, president of the NEA responded to the predictable outcry by eliciting an apology from Cizik. Anderson wrote a letter to the NAE board of directors saying that Cizik had apologized for the remark and that “our NAE stand on marriage, abortion, and other biblical values is long, clear, and unchanged.” NAE executive director W.T. Bassett tried further to calm the waters with an e-mail to constitutents which quoted Cizik as backtracking:

“I categorically oppose ‘gay marriage’ and see now that my thoughts about ‘civil unions’ were misunderstood and misplaced,” Cizik said, according to the message. “I am now and always have been committed to work to pass laws that protect and foster family life, and to work against government attempts to interfere with the integrity of the family, including same-sex ‘marriage’ and civil unions.”

Meanwhile, Cizik drew further criticism from pro-LGBT advocates this past week for being a signatory to the misleading New York Times ad by the Becket Fund which falsely characterized the peaceful protests against Prop 8 as “mob violence.”

Comments

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a. mcewen
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

I wonder if Michelle Malkin and the rest will talk about how “intolerance forced Cizik out of his position?” Somehow I doubt it.

Jaft
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

I hope he didn’t backtrack. Listening to the interview, he sounded willing to be open to new ideas and correct himself when wrong. Especially on the point of gay marriage, he sounded quite like he literally was actually giving the issue thought. Oh well, we shall hope.

Rick
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

The article doesn’t explain when, exactly, Cizik made these backtracking comments. It claims they were made ‘after the FA interview,’ which is quite vague. ‘After’ as in, moments later or weeks later? Was he in the presence of others there in the studio or in the bathroom at home talking aloud to himself?. So, did Cizik actually say what Bassett claims he said? Or is Bassett speaking for him in order to achieve some damage control?

Steve
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

It’s unbearable that they would engage in such religious intolerance and force the resignation of those who spoke their conscience and supported civil unions.

/see how easy that was

Ben in Oakland
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

So he tries to be a decent human being, and they force him out.

They claim to be for civil unions, except for actually being “for” them, and they force him out.

I wonder if he is actually going to think about the pond scum he has been associating with, or is he going to take those thoughts and force them out.

This mindset never ceases to amaze me. If i didn’t know better, I would think they are communists circa 1951

homer
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

These bozos are the leaders of the fundamentalist Christians?

werdna
December 12th, 2008 | LINK

Gee, just a couple of posts ago ago Cizik was denounced for his “shameful anti-religious sputterings,” but now he’s apparently a thoughtful fellow who’s not completely bound to regressive politics? Maybe my suggestion that TWO’s use of his quote about Evangelicals and Mormons was less than completely honest wasn’t so off base…

It’s a shame that Cizik may be backing away from his comments on Fresh Air, but his resignation suggests that he might be as tired of the NEA as they are of him.

Ephilei
December 12th, 2008 | LINK

@Jim

I hope you’re not implying young EVs are pro-choice. Cizik emphasizes that they are pro-life but are diverse regarding LGBT issues.

Scott
December 12th, 2008 | LINK

After listening to a local Christian radio on December 6, the host and his guest were ready to lead a tar and feathering party or worse for Cizik due to his comments. Apparently “true Christians”(tm) must believe that abortion and gays are evil and fomenting the down fall of “true American civilization”. With an attack like that, Cizik was doomed.

http://thechristianworldview.com/tcwblog/archives/1221

Jim Burroway
December 13th, 2008 | LINK

@Ephilei.

I implied no such thing. Which is why I wrote the sentence very carefully to reflect what Cizik said, that young people are more willing to support pro-choice candidates because of their stances on other issues.

Jim Burroway
December 13th, 2008 | LINK

For the record, I believe that as Cizik was a leading figure in a policy advocacy group, if his publicly expressed opinions indeed were not in line with the group that he purported to represent, then it was his obligation to step down and the group’s prerogative to fire him.

It’s just very sad that his publicly expressed opinions are not in line with the group that he represented.

Timothy Kincaid
December 13th, 2008 | LINK

Gosh,

And it’s only been two years since the last president of the National Association of Evangelicals resigned over his own – ahem – gay policy (for those who have forgotten).

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