Magazine article Church & State

NAE Official Attacked by Religious Right for Environmental Stand

Magazine article Church & State

NAE Official Attacked by Religious Right for Environmental Stand

Article excerpt

The Rev. Rich Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), believes global climate change is a threat to the planet that should concern evangelical Christians--and that has infuriated the Religious Right.

In a March 1 letter, more than two dozen Religious Right leaders took the extraordinary step of writing to the leadership of the NAE and demanding that Cizik be fired. Interestingly, none of the organizations that endorsed the letter actually belongs to the NAE, an umbrella organization of evangelical denominations and other groups.

Signers included James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association. The joint letter accuses Cizik of waging a "relentless campaign" to alert people of the dangers of global warming. Cizik's views, the letter asserted, are "demoralizing" the organization.

The NAE's leadership does not seem inclined to listen to the outsiders.

"We would normally look to our own constituency--and not to those who have chosen not to be members of the NAE--for counsel," Leith Anderson, NAE interim president, told Religion News Service (RNS).

Anderson added that he supports Cizik, and Cizik has vowed not to resign. During a meeting of the NAE board March 8-9, members ignored calls to dismiss him.

The Religious Right's beef with Cizik seems to be twofold: They believe global warming is a myth, and they worry that his emphasis on the issue will draw attention away from what they consider to be more pressing moral concerns.

"We have observed," they wrote, "that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children. …

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