Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Friday, December 12, 2008

NAE government affairs VP Richard Cizik resigns over civil unions remark

Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, has resigned over remarks he made on National Public Radio in support of civil unions. Christianity Today interviewed NAE president Leith Anderson on the reasons for the resignation and the fallout.

According to Anderson, "There was a discussion and a consensus that his credibility as spokesperson for the NAE was irreparably compromised. It was out of reporting that discussion to Richard Cizik that he and I discussed together and mutually concluded that his resignation was appropriate."

It's not a puff piece. It's a hard-hitting interview and Anderson's answers are not very strong at points. Anderson refuses to say, for example, whether the NAE has seen a spike in negative emails in reaction to Cizik's remarks. What I wish they had asked was whether the NAE had seen a high volume of criticism of the NAE for pressuring Cizik to leave.

Another example of how ill-prepared Anderson was for the interview is this exchange:

Has the rise of the Religious Right made it more difficult for the NAE to try to represent evangelicals?

I don't know. I've never thought about that.

I'm sure the interviewer had to bite her tongue or restrain her facial expressions after that answer.

While not backing full marriage equality, Cizik is to be commended for the courageous stand he took. There are many Evangelicals who are with him on this point. Obviously there are still many who are not.

The Cizik resignation signals to me, despite setbacks like California's Proposition 8, that Evangelicals know they are losing on this issue. When you're losing, you can shift your position or dig in. You can also keep using the same tactics or change your methods. While the continuing leadership of the NAE may dig in on their position, the fact that someone at the highest levels of the organization is shifting is probably indicative that rank-and-file Evangelicals may be more receptive to civil unions.

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