Richard Cizik, the top political operative for the National Evangelical Association, has resigned his post after committing the biggest sin an evangelical can make—changing his mind after deeply considering the facts of a situation.
Christianity Today reports that Cizik, in an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air that aired on December 2, told host Terri Gross that his opinion on marriage equality is “shifting.”
In a short portion of the program, Gross asked him, “A couple of years ago when you were on our show, I asked you if you were changing your mind on that. And two years ago, you said you were still opposed to gay marriage. But now as you identify more with younger voters, would you say you have changed on gay marriage?”
Cizik responded, “I’m shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. I don’t officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don’t think.”
Apparently, Cizik’s ultimate sin was not toeing the NAE party line on marriage equality and actually telling Gross what he believes.
“The role of an NAE spokesperson is primarily on behalf of what we have said, not on behalf of what we have not said,” (Leith) Anderson (president of the NAE) told Christanity Today. “It’s also to represent our constituency, and our constituency does not favor civil unions.”
Surprisingly, Cizik also told Gross he had voted for Barack Obama in the primaries and supported working with the administration on ways to reduce abortions.
The reaction to Cizik’s transgressions was swift and in some cases vitriolic:
At least one Christian radio commentator delivered some biting criticism of Cizik in the wake of his remarks, suggesting that the NAE officer’s comments are one of the reasons for the moral decay in America. “The moral anarchy in America worsens daily largely do the refusal of evangelical Christians to stand for biblical truth in all areas of life,” said Ingrid Schlueter, co-host of Crosstalk America. “Those who are at war with God, the author of life, should be publicly confronted by evangelical Christians. Instead, they are aided and abetted in their evil by craven leaders like Cizik.”
It’s no surprise that the NAE and its allies are taking pot shots at Cizik. The NAE and their affinity groups have never been known for showing grace to apostates and dissenters in their own ranks.
Cizik , however, should be congratulated for taking this open stand against the rigid, dogmatic, and archaic views of the NAE. Cizik has searched his soul and spoken honestly from his heart. He has spoken truth to power and now should wear his resignation proudly. The treatment he is receiving now at the hands of his former friends and allies is the way that so many prophets have been treated—with rejection and slander.