NAE Stays Cool

March 12, 2007

A few day ago, I critiqued a letter sent out by several prominent Christians attacking Richard Cizik, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals. The letter had several problems with it. As it turns out, the letter had very little impact as the NAE did not even address it at their recent board meeting. Instead, they reaffirmed an earlier position paper entitled "For the Health of the Nations," which endorsed environmental creation care as an important responsibility for evangelicals.

This action by the NAE board proved a couple additional problems with the attacks against Cizik. The letter (which was signed by James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Tony Perkins, Rick Scarborough, Gary Bauer, Harry Jackson, Dick Bott, and others) claimed that Cizik "regularly speaks without authorization for the entire organization and puts forward his own political opinions." I pointed out in the previous critique of this letter that the signers are not even members of the NAE. Now it should be obvious they were wrong about the claim that Cizik did not represent the NAE on this issue.

Another important and related issue is that at the recent meeting the NAE board endorsed a statement on torture and terrorism. What makes this action interesting is that the Institute on Religion and Democracy also issued a call urging the NAE board to respond to Cizik's support of climate care. They even erroneously claimed that "of the most pressing issue that will be discussed at this meeting will be NAE's Vice President's Richard Cizik and his 'Creation Care' statements." Oops! They sure got that one wrong. However, the IRD statement also attacked Cizik for signing a petition condemning torture and for working with other evangelicals to end genocide in Darfur. What an awful man he must be to be against torture and genocide! Actually, how can the IRD claim to be a Christian organization and not be against torture and genocide? Thankfully, the NAE board took a stand against torture.

The NAE board seemed to ignore the attacks and allow cooler heads to prevail. Such actions should give hope to all evangelicals that we may be able to move beyond the narrow and polarizing agenda of a few judgmental Christians who desire to make everyone think like they do.