When Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was in Denver last week, he offered up the following observation: “President Bush is the last person in the world who believes that global warming is [not] occurring.”
The comment was designed to get a good laugh from the crowd. And it did Yet, a March 1 letter signed by 25 prominent evangelical Christian leaders underscores just how wrong Edwards is about the number of conservatives – in this case religious righters – who continue to deny the realities of global climate change.
The letter is demanding that the National Association of Evangelicals cease sounding the global warming alarm – including, if necessary, ousting the man who is sounding it.
It also raises the issue over a growing schism between evangelicals interested in being, as they see it, good stewards of God’s planet – and those who want to keep the focus on abortion and same sex marriage.The letter, signed by a veritable Who’s Who of the Christian far right, accuses Richard Cizik, the government affairs representative of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, of a “preoccupation” with global warming – and potentially diluting what they call “the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children.”
The letter was sent to L. Roy Taylor, the chairman of the National Association of Evanglicals, telling him to get Cizik, who, along with former NAE president Ted Haggard, have turned the heat up over global warming concerns in the past few years.
The signors – none of whom are actually members of the NAE – include Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson, as well as Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of Coalitions for America and Gary L. Bauer of the group American Values.
Not only is global warming unproven, the letter claimed, but Cizik routinely “puts forward his own political opinions as scientific fact.”
One example cited was a June, 2006 interview in which Cizik reportedly said, “We [those who are concerned about global warming] are the future, and the old guard is reaching up to grasp its authority back, like a horror movie where a hand comes out of the grave.”
“To paraphrase,” Dobson et al wrote, “Cizik apparently believes ‘the old guard’ which defends traditional values is like a rotting corpse that will not die. Are these the words of a man who seeks to bring unity and understanding within the NAE?”
Here are other complaints the letter-writers lodged against Cizik:
“Mr. Cizik not only believes that global warming is an indisputable fact, but he also holds related views that he has not been willing to reveal to the membership at large. In an alarming speech he delivered to the World Bank in May of 2006, he said: “I’d like to take on the population issue, but in my community global warming is the third rail issue. I’ve touched the third rail but still have a job. And I’ll still have a job after my talk here today. But population is a much more dangerous issue to touch. We need to confront population control and we can – we’re not Roman Catholics, after all, but it’s too hot to handle now.”
“We ask, how is population control going to be achieved if not by promoting abortion, the distribution of condoms to the young, and, even by infanticide in China and elsewhere? Is this where Richard Cizik would lead us?
“We implore the NAE board to ensure that Mr. Cizik faithfully represents the policies and commitments of the organization, including its defense of traditional values. If he cannot be trusted to articulate the views of American evangelicals on environmental issues, then we respectfully suggest that he be encouraged to resign his position with the NAE.”
Cara DeGette is a longtime Colorado journalist and a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.