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 should we do to reduce our impact on the environment?
Richard Cizik: Well the decision I made, for example, first and foremost was the means of transportation I use, and we use as a family. And frankly we got rid of our gas guzzling cars and bought hybrids. Because I felt as the head of the household that this was one single way we could begin to make a big change because we are out on the roads. Washington is a . . . well, an “urban heat island” as environmentalists call it – an urban heat island. And the one thing we could do would be to drive hybrids. But we also did other things. We did an energy audit of our house and updated the heating and air conditioning systems to make them the most efficient. We do things like recycling, of course; but that is not the ultimate solution. I say that suggesting evangelicals that recycle is sort of like a Catholic Hail Mary pass. Why? Why? Recycling won’t do it because global warming is a global problem. And yes, there are individual actions we must take to change the way we live. But we cannot change the reality of climate – global warming if you will – without federal legislation. It’s a global problem that requires a global solution, and that means our nation’s governmental leaders must take action to seriously reduce CO2 emissions. And frankly, the United States is 4.5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. How can you bless the rest of the world if we are its chief emitter of CO2 gases which are producing an impact called the greening effect which is raising temperatures, and melting arctic polar ice caps that result, you see, in devastation not just to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, but to those in the south? So what should we be doing? I think we have to both act individually and collectively as a nation. And I think it’s . . . it’s sad. I think it’s . . . it’s reprehensible that our nation’s leaders have not acted thus far to do, in fact, just what needs to be done, which is to reduce our nation’s consumption, yes, of fossil fuels that emits the highest preponderance of greenhouse gases by any nation on the face of the earth. So we are all both to blame, but we’re also all the solution. So rather than prophesy gloom and doom, I prophesy rather a promise. A promise that comes from God, which is that “If you will bless the rest of the world, I will bless you.” Because the Scriptures themselves say that, “Those who curse you I will curse, and those who bless you I will bless.” And the United States has the opportunity – and particularly the church has an opportunity, you see – to be a blessing to the rest of the world by acting. And so the National Association of Evangelicals even is taking action to green our churches. And if 350,000 houses of worship reduce their energy consumption by just 25 percent, it would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road. So we all have a responsibility, but the church does too.
Recorded on: 6/25/07