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.
Question: What is the worlds biggest challenge in the coming decade?
Richard Cizik: I don’t say it’s the single most; but I say it’s as pressing an issue as protecting the unborn, or protecting traditional family. It’s … it’s surely as equal in our attention and our … our concern, and our action as those issues. So I’m not saying it’s the most single important issue. I’m saying amongst the variety of issues that we face today, it’s equal in importance at least. And I let people make their own minds up which is the most important. Because frankly, if you are a Christian living in North Africa impacted by desertification that comes from climate change, there – a Christian in North Africa – you might well say that I believe climate change is more important to me than, for example, the abortion issue. And that’s what millions upon hundreds of millions of evangelicals Christians around the globe do everyday. And you have to choose. And sometimes the threats that come from the environment are greater than the threats that come from, say, an abortionist. And Christians understand that overseas. I think it’s our American myopia that confines our attention to what occurs here in the continental United States at the expense of what (38:17) occurs around the world. And frankly what our people need … what evangelicals really need is a Christian world and life view that says what happens in Africa is important not just to African Muslims in Darfur who are victims of genocide; but what happens, for example, in Southeast Asia to those of Hindu faith in Bangladesh for example . . . Potentially a human catastrophe unlike has been visited upon this globe in human history if climate change were, for example, to drive ten and hundreds of millions of Bangladeshis either south of India or north of China. Where would they go if climate change raises the ocean levels? What are we to say to them? Are we to say, “Well those things don’t matter because they don’t impact me”? No, no, no, no. This . . . this is a denial of Christianity to say that these things don’t matter, or that they don’t matter to God. That’s a denial of the faith that we proclaim. That’s how serious this is.
Recorded on: 6/25/07