Disowning Richard Cizik
What has Cizik done to piss off so many of his brethren? Got too friendly with the tree huggers? Check. Added to the "growing confusion" about who and what evangelicals are? Check. But besides this general bad form, according to the letter the 25 Christian leaders sent to NAE president Leith Anderson -- and to which Dobson gave his "special alert" status -- Cizik has gone off message (PDF):
The existence of global warming and its implications for mankind is a subject of heated controversy throughout the world. It does appear that the earth is warming, but the disagreement focuses on why it might be happening and what should be done about it. We believe it is unwise for an NAE officer to assert conclusively that those questions have been answered, or that the membership as a whole has taken a position on a matter. Furthermore, we believe the NAE lacks the expertise to settle the controversy, and that the issue should be addressed scientifically and not theologically.
And worse yet than palling around with the liberal media, Cizik may have drank some of their global warming/anti-Christian Kool-Aid:
For example, he granted an interview with Fast Company, dated June, 2006, in which he said "We [proponents of global warming] are the future, and the old guard," he continued, "is reaching up to grasp its authority back, like a horror movie where a hand comes out of the grave." To paraphrase, Cizik apparently believes "the old guard" which defends traditional values is like a rotting corpse that will not die. Are these the words of a man who seeks to bring unity and understanding within the NAE?
The Christian Right a rotting corpse that will not die, called out as such by one of its own? "Warm and fuzzies" for liberals indeed! But then, the liberals have always loved Cizik, at least for the past several years, when Cizik arrived as the kinder, gentler face of the NAE's supposed ideological makeover, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" As I wrote at the time, the media's hopeful expectations about what the Call meant -- "Evangelical paper backs off politics," "Evangelicals seek to distance faith and politics," and "Proposal warns evangelicals on politics" -- were far more dramatic than the actual policy, or rather rhetorical, adjustments called for in "For the Health of the Nation." In reality, the document pointedly maintained the primacy of sex-and-morals issues over the contestable issues of environmental and poverty activism. I wrote then:
The issues on which evangelicals may never compromise are still the so-called "social evils"--abortion, embryonic stem-cells, euthanasia, gay marriage. The unbending position on this familiar group of evangelical bêtes noir, far more than the charity and environmentalism lauded by the press, is the common cause in the NAE's new evangelical platform; the shared calling meant to transcend other divisions along the evangelical spectrum, over party affiliation or other areas of "policy" disagreement such as Iraq. They're the exceptions to the new-found "political realism" credited by Stammer as the basis for the NAE's sense of cooperation and diversity. And they're not up for discussion.
And that is, predictably, the real point of contention between Dobson, Bauer and Perkins on the one hand, and Cizik, on the other. Not so much that Cizik is drawing energy and outrage to global warming and away from gay marriage and abortion, but that, in the mind of many conservative Christians, choosing between pro-life or environmental activism must be a zero-sum game. And Cizik himself made the hazardous move of pointing out one place where the two intersect: population control. Dobson's letter quotes him:
"I'd like to take on the population issue, but in my community global warming is the third rail issue. I've touched the third rail but still have a job. And I'll still have a job after my talk here today. But population is a much more dangerous issue to touch. We need to confront population control and we can -- we're not Roman Catholics, after all, but it's too hot to handle now." We ask, how is population control going to be achieved if not by promoting abortion, the distribution of condoms to the young, and, even by infanticide in China and elsewhere? Is this where Richard Cizik would lead us?
The notion that environmentalism=population control=family planning=forced sterilization is overwhelmingly popular on the Christian far-right, where anti-contraception books trade rumors on "ZPG [Zero Population Growth] types," and appropriate traditionally leftist language about civil rights and racism by decrying all international family planning efforts as a colonialist, racist attempt to keep developing nations down. For example, Lifesite's running footer links to a "Special Report" on "The Inherent Racism of Population Control," while another story warns Christians away from the "Climate Change Hysteria" that has captured the likes of Cizik, specifically for environmentalism's supposed ties to contraception:
"Climate change" is the latest hot issue for the environmental movement that counts among its leadership some of the world's leading population control activists who are also openly hostile to Christianity. Environmentalist doctrine presupposes that the answer to climate concerns is the elimination of huge portions of the human population through mass abortion, sterilization programs and numerous other means.
The Population Research Institute, headed by Steve Mosher, counts this is as its operating philosophy, subordinating its shaky science to more emotional -- and likely more effective -- links between environmentalism and abortion, as part of its mission to abolish the United Nations Population Fund. And in the end, that might be a better strategy for keeping dedicated Christian Rightists on board -- not coming up with an Intelligent Design-style refutation of global warming science, but conflating a whole host of liberal ideas and sending a warning shot to its followers that even discussing the possibilities of overpopulation, and its effect on the environment, is tantamount to turning in their "right-to-life" card.
Disowning Richard Cizik | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden)
Disowning Richard Cizik | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden)