Sarah Pulliam has a first-rate story up on the Christianity Today website breaking news of the resignation of Rich Cizik as vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, in the wake of remarks clearly indicating that he’s grown soft on gay marriage. Here’s what he said to Terry Gross in a Fresh Air interview December 2:
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.
Cizik had already become a lightening rod for evangelicals, some putative leaders of whom had called for his ouster as a result of his defections from religious right orthodoxy on climate change. He also said he had voted for Obama in the Democratic primary and, golly, if he voted in the Democratic primary you figure he probably voted Democratic in the general. This proved to be the last straw.
The Cizik story takes on added significance in re: our little back and forth about the RIC and the import of its reaching out to center-right evangelicals. The NAE has always been an odd duck of an organization, seeming to be the evangelical counterpart to the National Council of Churches but actually representing only a few (and not the largest) evangelical denominations, and accepting membership from individuals and other entities. But Cizik has been a central figure in the “new evangelical agenda” story, and his departure may be a portent. Of what? Perhaps a new institutional home for new agenda evangelicals.