Top Evangelical Leader Resigns After Voicing Support for Civil Unions
December 11th, 2008
Richard 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.”
TWO Calls Out Becket Fund in Full Page Ad
December 10th, 2008
We’ve already talked about the full-page ad placed by the Becket Fund in last Friday’s New York Times which falsely characterized the peaceful protests against California’s Proposition 8 as “mob violence.” And we also provided evidence of some of that ad’s cosigners’ undisguised hatred against gay people.
Tomorrow, Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out will counter that ad with a full-page ad in the Salt Lake City Tribune. TWO’s ad calls attention the the Becket Fund’s ad demanding an end to “anti-religious bigotry” against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
“Beginning today,” they wrote, “We commit ourselves to opposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry, against any faith, on any side of the cause, for any reason.
TWO responds by including some rather shameful anti-religious sputterings by three of the Becket Fund ad’s cosigners:
“Hollywood is controlled by secular Jewswho hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.” – Bill Donohue, Catholic League
“Mormonism either affirms historic Christianity, or it doesn’t. Since it doesn’t, it can’t call itself Christianity – a fact that all the good will and public relations in Utah can’t change. …”While Mormons share some beliefs with Christians, they are not Christians.” –Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship Ministries
“Most evangelicals still regard Mormonism as a cult.” — Rich Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals
Here is the TWO ad. (Click on the image to see the full-size version.)
Homosexual Mob Violence?
December 8th, 2008
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty published a full page ad in the New York Times today decrying the “violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS or ‘Mormon’ church” by opponents of Propostion 8. Those signing the missive included:
- Kevin “Seamus” Hasson – the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
- Nathan Diament – Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America
- Rick Cizik – National Association of Evangelicals.
- Ronald J. Sider – Evangelicals for Social Action
- Chuck Colson – Prison Fellowship
- Chris Seiple – Institute for Global Engagement
- Dr. Alveda King – civil rights activist
- William J. Donohue – Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
- Robert Seiple – Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
- Douglas Laycock – University of Michigan Law School
- Marvin Olasky – The King’s College, New York City
- Roger Scruton – writer and philosopher
- Armando Valladares – former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission
Although the signatories claim to “differ about a great many important things” including “the wisdom and justice of California’s Proposition 8”, I find little evidence of this assertion.
The chief signatory, Kevin “Seamus” Hasson is, on the surface, neutral. However he has on several occasions stated his opinion (and that of his organization) that marriage equality is “very expensive in terms of religious liberty”, has an impact that is “severe and pervasive”, and that he opposed the court’s actions legalizing same-sex marriage.
Some others on the list, including Alveda King, Chuck Colson, Roger Scruton, and William Donohue, represent the extreme of anti-gay activists – those who not only oppose marriage equality but any rights or freedoms granted to gay persons. Armando Valladares and Nathan Diament, while not outright haters, are on record in opposition to gay marriage as well as other rights and freedoms.
Others are lesser known and some are liberal on environmental or economic issues. Douglas Laycock advocates for the separation of religious and civil recognition. And Marvin Olasky advocates that “same-sex marriage be opposed only in ways that treat gays as still possessing human dignity”. Rick Civik supports some civil unions recognition.
But I was unable to find a single instance of anyone signing onto this list that was either directly effected by Proposition 8 or opposed to its passage. The range within the signatories is from “I oppose gay marriage” to “I really, really, really oppose gay marriage and anything else that would benefit gay people in any way.”
Now let’s examine this “mob violence and intimidation” against Mormon Churches and their members and see if it merits a full page of condemnation.
Becket and Pals listed a grand total of one objectionable event, so we’ll look at it first:
- “Thugs sent white powder” to two Mormon churches.
It has never been determined just who sent the powder or why. That, of course, doesn’t deter those who think that gay people should quietly accept a second class status from making the baseless accusation.
The other incidences of “violence” (if you really stretch the word) through November 24th have been itemized by the Salt Lake Tribune. They consist of:
- Disruption. A group called Bash Back! disrupted services at an Evangelical church in Lansing, Michigan.
- Vandalism: There have been windows shot out with a bb gun, walls spray-painted, and glue poured into the locks of LDS churches. A Pentecostal church was peppered with eggs and toilet paper.
- Minor Arson: A Book of Mormon was set on fire on a LDS church doorstep and a plastic plant lit on fire at a University. Someone tried to burn a Yes on 8 yard sign.
In addition to the items listed by the Tribune, I also know of:
- A Styrofoam cross being carried into a Prop 8 protest by a Phyllis Burgess, a 69-year-old Palm Springs perennial anti-gay agitator, was snatched and broken.
- A group of Christian Dominionists were taunted and yelled at by angry gays until they were escorted by police out of the Castro in San Francisco.
Incidents of physical violence seem to have been limited to two, one on each side, and both before the election:
- A man was hit why trying to protect Yes on 8 signs outside a church in Modesto.
- An opponent to the proposition was attacked by a supporter and hit with a Yes on 8 sign in Torrance.
But from the language of Becket and Pals, you’d think that buildings were aflame and hospitals full from the victims of rampaging homosexual mobs terrorizing the nation:
Regrettably, some public voices have even sought to excuse the threats and disruptions simply as “demonstrations” that got out of hand. Perhaps that’s true in some cases. Far too many, however, seem never to have been demonstrations in the first place, but more nearly mobs, seeking not to persuade but to intimidate. When thugs send white powder to terrorize any place of worship, especially those of a religious minority, responsible voices need to speak clearly: Religious wars are wrong; they are also dangerous. Those who fail to condemn or seem to condone that intimidation are at fault as well. Consciously or not, they are numbing the public conscience, which endangers us all.
I condemn the behavior that is listed above. I do not, by any means, seek to justify or excuse vandalism. It is not appropriate to break someone’s protest cross even if she is seeking to insult and offend. It is absolutely not acceptable to trespass onto a church property in order to disrupt services.
But the sole instance that could even remotely be considered “nearly a mob” was the instance in the Castro. And while one incident may be “far too many”, this language is intended of obfuscate rather than clarify.
I have to conclude that this ad had nothing to do with violence against Mormons. Rather it is a way of demonizing gays and using insinuation to portray a community as violent and aggressive.
Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out lists some examples of the religious bigotry spouted by some of these very signatories.