Does politics shape the evangelical debate on climate change?

Richard Cizik is the former Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and one of the most prominent Evangelical lobbyists in the United States.  In his position with the NAE, Cizik's primary responsibilities were setting the organization's policy on issues and lobbying the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court.  Cizik also served as NAE's national spokesman and edited a monthly magazine, NAE Washington Insight.  Since 2003, Cizik has been active in a type of environmentalism he calls "creation care"; his stance on global warming has drawn both support and criticism from fellow Evangelicals.

In 2007, he and Nobel Prize winner Eric Chivian, as a team, were named one of the 100 most influential scientists and thinkers by Time.  On December 11, 2008, Cizik gave his resignation from his position with NAE after a December 2 radio broadcast of NPR's Fresh Air in which he voiced support for same-sex civil unions.  His comments and his resignation has generated both strong support and strong criticism within the evangelical Christian community.

  • Transcript


Question: Does politics shape the evangelical debate on climate change?

Richard Cizik: This is primarily for some in their opposition to climate change, this is primarily about politics. In other words, the Republican leaders believe they have constructed a winning coalition that includes business and evangelicals. And some would call it an unholy alliance in the sense that, well, business Republicans get what they want in this deal; but conservative evangelicals, well what do they get? Nothing. And that to me is a bad deal politically; but an alliance moreover with business, at least the businesses that have heretofore have opposed any action against climate change. Well that is an unholy alliance. It’s wrong. Why? Because it allows business interests to dictate what ought to be, I think, responsible individual actions by Christians to save the world which God gave us. And so I say to my evangelicals, “Be careful.” Why? Because when you die, God is not going to ask you how He created the earth. He’s going to ask, “What did you do with what I created? Did you fulfill your duty to be a steward of the earth?” And if all you can say at the end of that is, “Well, I turned my … over to corporate America”, then I think you abnegated God’s challenge… His duty to seek and protect the earth.

Recorded on: 6/25/07