The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) recently named Galen Carey, a longtime employee of World Relief, the NAE's humanitarian arm, as director of government affairs. His appointment comes six months after Richard Cizik resigned after saying he was shifting his views on same-sex unions.
"What impresses me with all of this is that Galen is not someone who's a theoretician," said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE. "He's a veteran practitioner in the issues that are of great concern in our culture and among evangelicals."
The new director's résumé spans four continents and numerous job descriptions. Carey spent 26 years working for World Relief, three of them in Washington as director of World Relief's advocacy and policy. Most recently, Carey built a church network to combat HIV/AIDS in Burundi, Africa.
Carey will be responsible for representing the NAE and its constituents — which include 45,000 churches from more than 50 denominations — to lawmakers and advocacy groups. Several media outlets reported during the 2008 election that evangelicals have recently broadened their agenda to address climate change and poverty, but Carey argues that the trend has been ongoing for a long time.
"Evangelicals have been more apt to be directly engaged in addressing issues like poverty or HIV/AIDS on the community level. As a result, we recognize a public policy dimension, which leads us into more political engagement," said Carey, who attends a multicultural church in Maryland. "It's probably people in the mainstream belatedly discovering that evangelicals do have quite a variety of interests."
Carey also spent 14 years in Chicago working with churches and refugees, worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Croatia, and directed disaster relief in Indonesia.
President of World Relief Sammy Mah said he had recommended Carey for the job because his experience allows him to navigate different cultures and ideologies.
"I couldn't think of a better candidate because of what he brings," Mah said. "Will he be on center stage as much as Rich was? I don't think so. With Galen, you'll find quiet, assured leadership skills."
Cizik, who left in December after working for the NAE for 28 years, was leaving Tuesday for Casablanca and the Moroccan Sahara to help organize a Muslim-Christian dialogue and a nationwide Earth Day in 2010.
"Galen Carey is an excellent choice and I look forward to working with him," Cizik said in an e-mail. "Indeed, they couldn't have selected a better person."
In December 2008, Cizik told a reporter on National Public Radio that he was shifting toward supporting civil unions, something Anderson said the NAE does not support.
The NAE's public policy 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.
"There are a certain number of evangelicals who think that civil unions are an alternative that is legal and possible short of actual marriage. It's not a majority view held by evangelicals," Anderson said. "The primary conversation has been on marriage and not civil unions. That's the issue we are and everyone else is mostly to engage."
Politically conservative evangelicals called for Cizik's resignation in March 2007 because of his "relentless campaign" against global warming. Anderson stood by him at the time and says that the NAE's support for environmental advocacy has not changed.
"Creation care is Richard's passion and area of expertise," Anderson said. "It should not be perceived that less visibility for the NAE on creation care is less concern. However, in all probability, there's not going to be the level of visibility that Richard has had and will continue to have."
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Christianity Today has a special section on the National Association of Evangelicals, including:
Richard Cizik Resigns from the National Association of Evangelicals
Longtime lobbyist and media spokesman recently said 'I'm shifting' on gay unions. (December 11, 2008)
Interview: NAE President Leith Anderson on Richard Cizik's Resignation
'If he did not appropriately represent NAE, then he has lost credibility as a spokesperson.' (December 11, 2008)
Dobson, Others Seek Ouster of NAE Vice President
Interim president Leith Anderson says he supports Richard Cizik's work on creation care. (March 2, 2007)