Evangelical leader Cizik ousted for shift in same-sex marriage views

The outspoken Christian evangelical who criticized Republican John McCain as “unprincipled” and who has emerged as a leading voice calling for conservatives to devote themselves to battling global warming resigned his longtime post with the National Association of Evangelicals after a radio interview in which he said his views on same sex marriage are “shifting.”

“I’m shifting, I have to admit,” the Rev. Richard Cizik told NPR. “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.”

Last year a roster of conservative evangelical leaders tried to oust Cizik, the vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals for 28 years, for what they termed a “relentless campaign” against global warming. Their preference was to keep the focus on social issues, like abortion, same-sex marriage and abstinence before marriage.

“For better or for worse, Rich became a great, polarizing figure,” said Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship. “He was gradually, over a period of time, separating himself from the mainstream of evangelical belief and conviction. So I’m not surprised. I’m sorry for him, but I’m not disappointed for the evangelical movement.”

Just this week Cizik, along with Colson, signed off on a full-page ad in the New York Times claiming that gays and lesbians have engaged in a pattern of mob violence against Mormons after the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The ad has sparked backlash from gays.

In a September interview with the Colorado Independent, Cizik weighed in with his thoughts about the presidential race, including a marked critique of the Republican candidate.

“I thought John McCain was a principled person,” Cizik said. “But John McCain has backed off, not just on climate change but on torture and a sensible tax policy — in other words, he’s not the John McCain of 2000. … He seems to be waffling on issue after issue.”

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