Alas! Richard Cizik’s sad departure.

Sad news today: Richard Cizik, head of the Washington Office of the National Association of Evangelicals, has resigned his position under pressure from politically conservative members of the organization, after he suggested in an NPR interview that he supported the idea of gay civil unions.

New York Times columnist-cum-social justice advocate Nicholas Kristof described the situation this way on his blog:

[F]or many years [Rich] had played a critical role in the rebranding of evangelicals. […] people like Rich … were using the political power of evangelicals to get the White House to pay attention to Sudan, AIDS and malaria. Most liberals are still so distrustful of conservative Christians that they don’t appreciate the significance of that shift, but it’s huge.

Travel through Cambodia, and you see child brothels closed because evangelical groups hounded the U.S. and Cambodian governments to get them shut. Visit southern Africa, and you see people who are alive today only because evangelicals nagged President Bush into launching PEPFAR, his AIDS initiative. […] And if we’re going to make further progress on issues that I care deeply about, it will be because of coalitions between bleeding-heart liberals and bleeding-heart evangelicals.

Using Kristof’s terminology, I would probably be considered both a bleeding-heart liberal and a bleeding-heart evangelical.  When it comes to politics — especially economics and foreign policy — I’m relatively liberal (at least by American standards).  When it comes to theology, I would consider myself evangelical.  Bleeding-heart?  Well, let’s say the term has been mentioned once or twice when I happened to be hanging around.

This blog exists because I think devout Christians need to care about issues of social justice and compassion.  I have been blessed to have been able to spend much of my life among family members and friends (not least of all the passionate, compassionate members of Wheaton College’s Student Global AIDS Campaign).  And I have been encouraged to see that a large and growing number of evangelicals have been becoming increasingly awake to issues like global poverty and disease in recent years.  I’ve been happy and proud to see people like Civik taking on some of these issues, which are, as I see it, far more important — and far closer to the heart of the beliefs we profess — than many of the classic pet issues adopted by many politically conservative evangelicals in the past several decades.  The news of the backlash against Civik saddens and frustrates me.

There’s a lot I could say about this, but I think I’ll stop here.  This is a story I wanted to bring up, not one I want to debate.  I’ll end, however, on what seems to me to be an encouraging note.  This from Dan Gigloff at U.S. News & World Report:

John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron, expects the “branching out” work that Cizik helped spearhead for the evangelical movement to continue, even if Cizik leaves the political arena. “There are a lot of forces working at broadening the evangelical agenda, particularly evangelicals under 30, Green says. “In the long term, there will be people who become more prominent from this younger evangelical generation.”

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~ by h.e.g. on December 12, 2008.

One Response to “Alas! Richard Cizik’s sad departure.”

  1. Im not to familiar with Rich Cizik, just reading your post and I do find it interesting that he would say such a thing about gay civil union. Im a bit undecided on that whole issue myself. One part of me wants to stick with my beliefs that though Homosexuality is a sin, we have to love the sinner. That means take into our flock and work with the brother in Christ. Meanwhile, the sinner is striving for a closer walk with Christ and doing like all us sinners do who work at getting better. My belief is when God gave us his son, he didn’t send him down to save the righteous but to save the sinner. That being said, let’s take in all homosexuals who are repentant and strive for a closer walk with Jesus.

    On the other hand, If you have a Christian Homosexual within the church who continues to live in a world of homosexual activities and shows now sign of repentance or willingness to change, how can he be allowed to take the sacrement or participate as a church member. Keep in mind, im not saying to not allow them to attend church, im referring to church membership. I look at this issue as I would look at an alcoholic or drug addict or the not so commonly discussed sex addict/ fornicator. I would suggest the same treatment to all sinners who continue to live in sin after accepting Jesus as their savior.

    Those are my thoughts, unfortunately, there are so many pews accross the country filled with unrepentant sinners who continue to live thier lives as they did before they chose to follow Christ. Who’s at fault? the sinner or the church for enabling them and not helping them to sin no more or at least sin less. Yes, we live in the flesh, we’re all born to sin, however, to be like Christ we have to atleast make an effort.

    anyway, great post, you got a bit off track imo towards the end but good work. Cyas around :)

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