Affinity-group politics took second place to competence for Chief Lobbyist and Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) Richard Cizik when he walked into the voting booth this year. What he has to say shows the shift in thinking (and possible split) among politically active evangelicals.
Evidently he is not alone. In an interview with Terry Gross on WHYY/NPR’s Fresh Air, he cites the following trends:
32% of younger evangelicals voted for Obama
4 in 10 evangelicals know a gay person in their family, workplace or circle of friends who is out.
52% of younger evangelicals favor some form of civil unions or same-sex marriage or both.
Two-thirds of younger evangelicals would vote for a candidate even if they disagreed with the candidate on pro-life and gay marriage issues.
Younger evangelicals, Cizak says, are overwhelmingly pro-life but have a more pluralistic view than their older white counterparts.
LifeSite, a pro-life web-site, says under the headline “Shock: Evangelical Leader Believes in Gay Civil Unions, Says OK to Vote for Obama”:
“I happen to think in the (Virginia) primary he was the best choice,” said Cizik of Obama. Cizik explained that he held party philosophy and the character of the candidate above particular issues. He thus suggested: “It would be possible for Evangelicals to disagree with Barack Obama on same sex marriage and abortion and yet vote for him.”
Cizik expressed an obvious distaste for Sarah Palin, citing her stand on the environment as “ignorance” and accusing her of lacking in humility, a trait which he says he admired in Obama.
Asked if he had changed his mind on homosexual “marriage,” Cizik replied, “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.”
He advocated that Evangelicals change focus away from the homosexual “marriage” debate. Revealingly, he said on the subject, “Maybe we need to reevaluate this and look at it a little differently. I’m always looking for ways to reframe issues. Give the biblical point of view a different slant.”
Cizik said he would “absolutely” support Obama in his scheme to reduce abortions by “government supplying contraception.” He explained, “We’re not Catholics who oppose contraception per se.”
In the interview he describes the “winner-take-all” mentality of many on the religious right, as well as the inability of many evangelicals to tolerate compromise or nuance. One presumes, therefore, that Cizik is ready for the hate-mail and the inevitable calls that he step aside from his role in the NAE which represents about 45,000 congregations.
Listen to the interview here.