March 12, 2007

NAE Stays Cool

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.

5 comments:

  1. I am extremely glad not to be an evangelical, I have a hard enough time with the rigidness of the Catholic church.
    Why can't evangelicals see beyond abortion and homosexuality?
    I understand their absolute hatred of both, but, even in the face of war, terroroism, torture, global warming etc, they can'tsee beyond those two subjects?
    I ask because I cannot understand this position.
    Why do they hate science?

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  2. The IRD primary purpose is to take corporate money and the money of the wealthy and use it to try to silence the Church when it disagrees with these monied interests.

    In the past, the IRD's primary target has been the Mainline Prodestants. Interesting to see IRD start to go after Evangelicals, too.

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  3. diane and jleeper: Thanks for the comments. I am glad that organizations like the NAE are attempting to broaden the focus of evangelicals. It is interesting (maybe odd is a better word) that the IRD has turned its sights upon the NAE. This is just one more reason why the IRD is a problem within Christianity.

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  4. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Your leap of logic is tragically short when you write: "Actually, how can the IRD claim to be a Christian organization and not be against torture and genocide?"

    Your mistake? You predetermined that the ONLY way to be opposed to torture and genocide is to be in favor of one SPECIFIC statement. Thus, if IRD finds particular problems in the specific statement and therefore is not in favor of promoting that statement's particular shortcomings, you conclude that IRD favors torture and genocide.

    That is a rookie mistake, and you should do better.

    IRD could very well be (and most certainly IS) opposed to torture and genocide, but not in the way and for the ostensible reasons in the statement it cannot support.

    For you to make the absurd claim that IRD is not opposed to torture and genocice is simply bearing false witness. Such patent nonsense should be below the intellectual if not moral standards of your blog.

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  5. Anonymous: Thanks for offering your concern. You make a good point that this one statement is not necessarily the only way to oppose torture. Had the IRD simply not signed the statement but put out another, I probably would not have even written anything about them here.

    However, to attack someone for taking an anti-torture stand does not seem appropriate. Even if one does not agree with the specific statement enough to sign it, I do not think that those taking this important moral stand deserve condemnation.

    That being said, I should have worded the post more carefully. I have read comments by IRD officials explaining that they are against torture, so I know that position and am glad to see it. Sadly some Christians have actually supported torture (see my recent Ethics Daily column entitled “Tortured Theology”). My complaint, therefore, is not that the IRD supports torture (since that is not true) but that the IRD would attack Cizik for taking a moral and biblical stand. I hope that clarifies this issue. Thanks again for offering your comment!

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