Friday, December 12, 2008

Richard Cizik Resigns

Most of you have never heard of Richard Cizik. Let me explain why his resignation is important.

A few days ago I posted an opinion on framing and referred you to Matt Nisbet who claims that Richard Cizik is a good example of how to present science to the general public. Cizik is Vice President for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Nisbet thinks he is the top climate communicator [see Communicating the Truth about Climate Change].

I quoted from Nisbet's blog where he refers approvingly to a Cizik interview with Terry Gross.

Yesterday Christianity Today announced that Richard Cizik has been forced to resign his position in the National Association of Evangelicals [Richard Cizik Resigns from the National Association of Evangelicals]
Richard Cizik resigned Wednesday night as vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) during a week of growing uproar over his comments that he is shifting his views on same-sex unions.

"Although he has subsequently expressed regret, apologized, and affirmed our values, there is a loss of trust in his credibility as a spokesperson among leaders and constituencies," Leith Anderson, president of the NAE wrote to board members today. Cizik did not return calls for comment.

Last year, more than two dozen evangelical leaders sought to oust Cizik, who has been vice president for 28 years, because of his "relentless campaign" on global warming.

"For better or for worse, Rich became a great, polarizing figure," said Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship. "He was gradually, over a period of time, separating himself from the mainstream of evangelical belief and conviction. So I'm not surprised. I'm sorry for him, but I'm not disappointed for the evangelical movement."

Cizik spoke mostly on the environment in a December 2 interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, but he made brief remarks about same-sex civil unions, gay marriage, and his early support of President-elect Barack Obama.

In a short portion of the program, 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."
I wonder if Matt still thinks that Richard Cizik is the best example of successful framing?

[Hat Tip: Friendly Atheist: Christian Leader Resigns Because of His Almost-Tolerant Views of Homosexuals]


  1. And this highlights one of the top reasons why knighting religious leaders as spokes people for any scientific claim is a bad idea: They routinely use a musty old book of fairy tales to justify anything they want. And when they do this, they alienate lots of people, including each other.

  2. I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions

    Believe in them? Why, I've seen them!

  3. This is terrible news. Without Cizik, the religious right is even more polarized, cementing itself more firmly into the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson mold. And they have a huge amount of power.

    By the by, I highly recommend this Fresh Air interview with Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God, How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.