Richard Cizik Resigns from the National Association of Evangelicals
"I think finding those who are in trouble, in crisis, helping them through this and if need be, even supplying what government presently doesn't do, namely contraception, is an answer to reducing unintended pregnancies," Cizik said.
"Wait, wait. I think I heard you say government supplying contraception. That's got to be controversial," Gross asked.
"Among some it may be, but I don't think so," Cizik responded. "We are not, as I have said previously, we are not Catholics who oppose contraception per se."
Anderson told CT that although the NAE supports abortion reduction, it has not laid out specific plans, such as the government's provision of contraception.
Anderson wrote a letter to the NAE board of directors last week that said Cizik's remarks "did not appropriately reflect the positions of the National Association of Evangelicals and its constituencies." He also said that Cizik had apologized for the remark and that "our NAE stand on marriage, abortion, and other biblical values is long, clear, and unchanged."
NAE executive director W. T. Bassett also sent an e-mail reply to concerned constituencies that quoted remarks from Cizik following the Fresh Air interview. "I categorically oppose 'gay marriage' and see now that my thoughts about 'civil unions' were misunderstood and misplaced," Cizik said, according to the message. "I am now and always have been committed to work to pass laws that protect and foster family life, and to work against government attempts to interfere with the integrity of the family, including same-sex 'marriage' and civil unions."
Cizik also affirmed his opposition to abortion and described himself as an unfailing "advocate for pro-life policies without exception."
The NAE's public policy priorities and many of its positions are outlined in its 2004 document, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Public Engagement." The document defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It also states, "Good family life is so important to healthy human functioning that we oppose government efforts to trespass on its territory: whether by encroaching on parental responsibilities to educate their children, by treating other kinds of households as the family's social and legal equivalent, or by creating economic disincentives to marriage."
"For the Health of the Nation" also makes two mentions of same-sex marriage: "We also oppose innovations such as same-sex 'marriage,' " and, "We also oppose the expansion of 'rights talk' to encompass so-called rights such as 'same-sex marriage' or 'the right to die.'"
Cizik has received more attention since he began to support environmental causes and was named one of Time magazine's top 100 most influential people earlier this year.
"There's a sense in which he has raised the profile of the NAE, the NAE has raised the profile of Richard Cizik," Anderson said.
Anderson strongly supported Cizik after Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, and 23 other politically conservative evangelicals called for Cizik's resignation in a March 2007 open letter.
"The event two years ago was not from NAE members or constituencies. This time, there has been concern expressed from those who are from member constituencies that have made clear that they are not comfortable with him representing NAE values and positions," Anderson said. "We're not concerned about the agenda of those who are not members of the NAE."