RD News Round-Up—September 29, 2008

Cizik sizes up McCain

He oversees governmental affairs and is the chief lobbyist of the 30-million-member Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Evangelicals, this year he was named by TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, he’s a Republican, and he’s a leader in the Creation Care movement—a Christian evangelical response to global warming.

He is Richard Cizik and he’s a longtime friend of Sen. John McCain. These days, Cizik says that he doesn’t recognize the Senator’s current incarnation.

“I thought John McCain was a principled person,” Cizik told Cara DeGette of The Colorado Independent. “But John McCain has backed off, not just on climate change but on torture and a sensible tax policy—in other words, he’s not the John McCain of 2000. … He seems to be waffling on issue after issue. It’s not illogical for someone to conclude that John McCain is going to be more like George Bush than John McCain is going to be like John McCain in 2000.”

Cizik has come under fire from a host of longtime evangelical leaders, For his work on the environment, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, Paul Weyrich—the Godfather of the New Right and Gary Bauer “tried last year, unsuccessfully, to get Cizik fired from his job of 26 years,” DeGette reported.

They have disparaged Cizik for having a ‘preoccupation’ with global warming and other related issues, including poverty and overpopulation. In 2006 Dobson even head-butted Cizik in the press for supporting international regulations of emissions, calling his views ‘anti-capitalistic and [having] an underlying hatred for America.’

And who will Cizik be voting for come November 4? Unclear.

Obama doesn’t have the experience all of us would like. I’m not in Washington to be an advocate for the Republican or the Democratic Party; that’s not my calling. I’m not an ideologue. I do wish Obama had 10 years experience in the Senate and Sarah Palin had [more experience].

I am a Republican, but I’m not comfortable with giving the Republicans four more years. I don’t see John McCain differing enough from the incumbent, and yet Obama is a work in progress, pretty much, so we’d be taking some risk with him. It’s a conundrum.

For more, see “Evangelical leader smacks McCain for lack of ‘principle’”


Planned Parenthood targeted by new anti-abortion coalition

For the umpty-umpth time over the past few decades, Planned Parenthood has come under attack from the Christian Right. This time, however, a gaggle of anti-abortion organizations have banded together to found the National Coalition to Defeat Planned Parenthood.

According to a report, “More than 50 leaders from pro-life organizations have formed a new coalition to put Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortions, out of business.”

“In the past, there have been may local and statewide efforts to thwart Planned Parenthood, but what makes the National Coalition to Defeat Planned Parenthood special is that for the first time, the major pro-life groups around the country are coming together to implement a unified national action,” said Eric Scheidler, communications director for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, the group spearheading the coalition.

Coalition members pledged to take the following steps to counter Planned Parenthood’s nationwide expansion effort:

  • Mobilize pro-life supporters at the grassroots level wherever a new Planned Parenthood attempts to open its doors, following the model of action taken by the Pro-Life Action League and its supporters in Aurora, Ill.
  • Eliminate Planned Parenthood’s government funding at the local, state and federal levels
  • Drastically reduce Planned Parenthood’s corporate funding
  • Utilize media to expose Planned Parenthood’s attack on women, children and families
  • Deprive Planned Parenthood of business and save unborn babies from abortion by expanding the pro-life presence at Planned Parenthood facilities
  • Safeguard the health and innocence of children by empowering parents and teachers to remove Planned Parenthood programs from their communities
  • Hold public officials accountable for enforcing all applicable laws, such as parental involvement and mandatory reporting of statutory rape
  • Call upon all people of faith and conscience to unite in prayer for an end to Planned Parenthood and its detrimental programs and policies.


Evangelicals and the growing green movement

“[M]illions of evangelicals—often perceived to be on the sidelines of the green movement—have become more environmentally conscious in the last year,” a new study released by The Barna Group, a Christian polling firm, has found. “Yet, evangelicals do so with some skepticism about the environmental movement, specifically the implications of climate change. Evangelicals are concerned about what they perceive to be media hype surrounding global warming, as well as skepticism about the role humans play in causing it. Moreover, evangelicals express strong concern that proposed environmental solutions would hurt the poor, particularly in developing nations.”

Most Christians are not satisfied to be mere observers of the green movement. Three-quarters of self-identified Christians (78%) agree they would like to see their fellow Christians take a more active role in caring for God’s creation in a way that is both informed and biblical. Among evangelicals, 90% would like Christians to take a more active role in caring for creation, with 67% agreeing strongly. This sentiment is firmly endorsed by a majority of active churchgoers who are Catholic (52%), mainline Protestant (62%), and non-mainline Protestant (67%).

The study found that while Americans have environmental issues on their radar, “few consider it one of the top challenges facing the nation.” According to The Barna Group, evangelicals feel about the same about the environment as their fellow Americans. While many evangelicals appear to be adopting more environmentally friendly lifestyles, “[o]ne of the most widely debated environmental subjects is global climate change: whether it is happening, what causes it, and what to do about it.”

Evangelicals are among the most skeptical population segments when it comes to global warming—just 27% firmly believe global warming is happening. In particular, evangelicals express the greatest caution regarding their perception that media has hyped the story (65%), their belief that cyclical climate change is not primarily caused by human activity (62%), and their concern that proposed solutions would hurt the poor, especially in other countries (60%). Interestingly, evangelicals’ concern about the impact global warming policies will have on the poor is the one shared point of skepticism also held by secular Americans (atheists and agnostics).

David Kinnaman, who directed the research, noted that “the Christian community is in tension about environmental engagement, being surprisingly active and engaged, but unsure about what to do next or whom to believe. Many Christians are reluctant to embrace the modern environmental movement, with concerns about the objectivity of the media as well as the best way to solve the problems. Rather, many evangelicals are concerned that proposed solutions to global warming would actually hurt the poor.”

Still, millions of Christians—no matter how you slice it, Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or not—want to see their faith community become more active in environmental stewardship. There is a void in Christian leadership on environmental issues, as well as an inability to articulate clearly and confidently a biblical understanding of creation care. Since climate change is controversial, many churches have simply avoided dealing with the subject, ceding the conversation to other voices. It may not be an easy arena to venture into, but the Christian community is ready for balanced, thoughtful, non-partisan and engaged leadership on this crucial issue.

To hear from evangelicals that are not skeptical and that believe human activity is a major cause of global warming, check out the Evangelical Climate Initiative.


American Family Association’s voting guide

The Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association, one of the major Christian Right organizations spearheading up the drive to pass Proposition 8 in California—the anti-same-sex marriage initiative—has issued its 2008 Voter guide.

Not too extensive in its coverage, the “Voter Issue Guide” for the 2008 Presidential Race is divided into three sections: “Homosexuality”; “Sanctity of Life”; and “Other Key Issues.” Each area contains five points.


  • Federal Protection of Traditional Marriage—Limiting marriage to the union of one man to one woman under federal law
  • State Constitutional Amendments that Protect Traditional Marriage—Limiting marriage to the union of one man to one woman under state law
  • Teaching of Homosexuality in Public Schools—Use of materials that encourage or support homosexuality as a positive lifestyle
  • Hate Crime Laws—Legislation that criminalizes certain actions or statements on the basis of sexual orientation
  • Homosexual Adoption—Expanding laws to permit adoption by homosexual couples

Sanctity of Life:

  • Constitutional Right to Abortion—Roe v. Wade was correctly decided
  • Protecting Infants Born Alive—Laws requiring protection for infants born alive born alive as a result of a botched abortion
  • Prohibiting Partial-Birth Abortion—Laws banning the procedure known as partial-birth abortion
  • Making it a Crime to Cross State Lines To Obtain Abortions for Minors—Transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion without the minor´s parents´ consent should be criminalized
  • Nomination of Pro-Life Supreme Court Justices—Will nominate judges who will interpret the Constitution as written

Other Key Issues:

  • Private Handgun Ownership—Interprets Second Amendment as guaranteeing the right to own and use handguns for self-defense
  • Allowing Parents to Exercise School Choice—Government vouchers allowing parents to place children in school of their choice
  • Immigration Reform and Border Security—Secure U.S. borders before granting some form of amnesty to illegal immigrants living in U.S.
  • Government Control of Health Care—Government funded or regulated health care
  • Reducing U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil—By lifting ban on off-shore drilling for oil and gas

Read more about where the AFA claims that Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain stand on the above issues, here.


Updates from Ground Zero in the same-sex marriage wars

The No on Prop 8 campaign has “unveiled” its first television ad in its campaign to defeat Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that would reverse the recent California Supreme Court’s decision ruling same-sex marriage legal.

According to the Advocate, the ad, titled “The Thorons—Don’t Eliminate Marriage For Anyone,” “features Sam and Julia Thoron, a California couple married for 46 years. Together, they say, they’ve raised three children—including a lesbian daughter. In the ad they urge Californians not to strip away the right of their daughter and thousands of other California couples to be married.”

“Our daughter deserves to be treated in her life with the same dignity and respect as her two straight brothers,” Sam Thoron told the media at Monday’s press conference. ”That includes the right that she now has to get married. That is why we are opposed to the proposition.”

The Advocate also reported that a recent California Field Poll showed that 55% of likely voters in the state opposed the proposition, while thirty-eight percent favor of the measure.

“With Attorney General Jerry Brown’s recent attempt to influence the election by prescribing a negative and prejudicial ballot summary, we expected to see a negative in the polling,” said Yes on 8 spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Kerns acknowledged that while opposition to same-sex marriage has softened in recent years, polls don’t reflect the extent of the lingering opposition. ‘People, when called by a pollster, tend to be more politically correct when talking to another human being than when they step into the voting booth and vote their conscience,’ she said.”

Meanwhile, in a “Personal Note” to supporters, Donald E. Wildmon, the founder and president of the American Family Association, announced the group’s “support for Stand for Marriage … . [which is] mounting a campaign over the next 40 days to educate voters across the country about issues that threaten to destroy traditional marriage.” Wildmon requested donations for Stand for Marriage and pledged “Every penny given will go to Stand for Marriage. None of it will be retained by AFA.”

Other interesting takes on the battle over gay marriage include: “Anti-Gay Nup Site Goes For Youth, But Keeps Old Tactics”, “Lynne Cheney speaks on same-sex marriage equality”, and The Floundering Yes on 8 Campaign: “One Million Missing Lawn Signs Found in China.”



  • The Matthew 25 Network “is asking Christian radio stations in the key battleground state of Ohio to air an ad that suggests Barack Obama would bring an end to the economic woes plaguing the state and the country if elected president,” OneNewsNow, a news service sponsored by the American Family Association, recently reported.

    Matthew 25 Network founder Mara Vanderslice “says her group is hoping to run its latest pro-Obama ad in Cleveland, Youngstown, Cincinnati, and Columbus, as well as in smaller locales such as Findlay and Mount Vernon. Salem Radio affiliate WFHM 95.5 ‘The Fish’ in Cleveland is already running the ad featuring former Democratic Congressman Tony Hall of Dayton and words from the 25th chapter of Matthew.” (To hear the one-minute ad go here)

  • On September 24, the Presidential Prayer Team, described by Charisma magazine as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose mission is to pray for national leaders year-round,” launched an effort called 40 Days to Pray the Vote. “Together, we will make this the most prayed-for election in the nation’s history,” said John Lind, president of the Presidential Prayer Team.

    According to Charisma, particpants have joined online forums and “each morning, team members … are e-mailed a specific prayer topic that targets a vital aspect of the election. It includes a related Bible verse, inspirational photo and written prayer. Leaders of the initiative hope to join believers nationwide in prayer for both the next president and for specific political issues facing the United States. The prayer team has sponsored three other 40-day prayer campaigns leading up to this year’s election.“ (For more on Pray the Vote, go here)

  • The promo for Craig Detweiler’s new book Into the Dark reads: “Detweiler, a well-respected film expert and media spokesperson on Hollywood and Christianity, examines forty-five twenty-first-century films that resonate theologically—from The Lord of the Rings trilogy to Little Miss Sunshine—offering groundbreaking insight into their scriptural connections and theological applications.”

    Detweiler, co-director of the Reel Spirituality Institute and associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, “uses the IMDb, the wildly popular Internet Movie Database, to select today’s most influential contemporary films. Into the Dark dissects the theology of everyday life, exploring the work of the Spirit of God in creation and redemption to discuss “general revelation” through cinema and sometimes unlikely filmmakers.”

    John Whitehead, the President and Founder of the Charlottesville, VA-based The Rutherford Institute, has a new book titled The Change Manifesto which according to the Institute’s Faith and Freedom Newsletter, “reminds us” that despite talk by the “presidential candidates … about reducing taxes, lowering gas prices and reforming Social Security…. none of that will matter unless we first restore the rule of law and abide by the Constitution.”

    “We are on the cusp of a new era of progress, but we can’t sit back and hope our elected officials will carry us there. Instead, we must join the people taking action at the local level,” says Whitehead. “If we join these everyday Americans, young and old, and harness our greatest resource, ourselves, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can restore our nation to its former role as an example of freedom and justice to the world.” (An excerpt from Whitehead’s is available here)

  • Singles cruises, gay cruises, The Nation and National Review cruises and now, welcome aboard an Ezekiel cruise! Joel Rosenberg’s Flash Traffic newsletter reports that he and his wife recently returned from a Boston to Montreal cruise with “about 350 Precept Ministries leaders and donors, teaching the Bible prophecies of Ezekiel 36 and 37 (the rebirth of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land in the last days) and Ezekiel 38 and 39 (the rise of a Russian dictator who will form an alliance with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries to attack and try to destroy Israel in the last days).” According to the best-selling author and frequent guest on conservative radio and television programs, the cruise allowed the couple “to be with evangelical Christian leaders who love Israel unconditionally and have demonstrated unwavering support for the Jewish State for decades.”

    Also on board were Jack and Kay Arthur who “equip[ped] their team to teach Bible prophecy in light of fast-moving geopolitical events in Russia, Iran and Israel, as well as to brief their team on how more people in the epicenter are coming to faith in Jesus Christ than at any other time in human history.” In light of recent events in Israel, Rosenberg raises two questions: “Can [Tzipi] Livni [the new leader of the Kadima Party] put together a coalition to run the government? If she cannot, new elections are coming and Bibi Netanyahu may defeat her to become the next Prime Minister”; and “If Livni does become PM [Prime Minister], will she take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities in the window of time between the U.S. elections in November and the inaugural in January?”

  • Last week, the Family Research Council announced “that that the European Court of Human Rights has granted permission for the organization to defend Ireland’s ban on the practice of abortion.” The organization will be represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and organizations. In a press release, Bill Saunders, FRC’s Human Rights Counsel and Senior Fellow of the Center for Human Life and Bioethics, said that the FRC was “proud to be working with the … [ADF] in this important battle. Ireland has wisely chosen to protect its most vulnerable citizens and we will work tirelessly to ensure that unborn children remain protected in Ireland.”

    “No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. ADF and FRC are looking forward to defending Ireland’s abortion ban so that scores of pre-born children are guaranteed the protection the Irish people gave them,” said ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. “This case is not only pivotal to Europe; it’s pivotal to America. With greater frequency, the U.S. Supreme Court looks across the ocean to see what other countries are doing when considering its own cases. This case could be the Roe v. Wade of Europe.”

    According to the FRC, “The case was filed initially by three women who sought abortions in Ireland and were unable to do so. The European Court granted the opportunity for three pro-life organizations to file a brief defending Ireland’s abortion ban. A hearing could occur as early as next year.”