On NPR’s Fresh Air program a couple of days ago, Richard Cizik appeared on the show to discuss his new evangelical organization that he started in response to his firing from the National Association of Evangelicals. He was fired because the last time he appeared on Fresh Air, he came out in favor of civil unions for gay people and said some other controversial things.
The show was a revelation in that it was the first time I heard an evangelical speak about how counterintuitive (from the perspective of one who puts their faith in Jesus) a lot of evangelical thinking is, and how it is enabled by conservative and republican ideology. On gay marriage:
I said, well, I’m still evaluating and I’m still thinking about this. And so while I haven’t come to a conclusion on that, I am convinced that you can’t deny rights to people based on their sexual orientation. It’s wrong.
It’s even wrong, I think, as Christians to take that position because we should support rights, human rights for all people even when they don’t agree with us, for example. And for example in Uganda, we have to oppose laws that would penalize people.
The Uganda comment is in reference to the law passed there that can go as far as giving people the death penalty for being gay. His views on sex and abortion were also refreshing, and also helped get him fired because of this exchange in the previous interview:
I think finding those who are in trouble, in crisis, helping them through this, and if need be, even supplying what government presently doesn’t do, namely contraception, is an answer to reducing, you see, unintended pregnancies. These are…
GROSS: Wait, wait. I think I heard you say government supplying contraception?
Rev. CIZIK: Yes.
GROSS: That’s got to be controversial among evangelicals.
Rev. CIZIK: Among some it would be, but I don’t think so. We are not, as I have said previously, we’re not Catholics who oppose contraception per se.
And let’s face it: What do you want? Do you want an unintended pregnancy that results in abortion or do you want to meet a woman’s needs in crisis, who frankly would, by better contraception, avoid that choice, avoid that abortion that we all recognize is morally repugnant, at least it is to me?
I urge you to listen to the whole podcast, or read the transcript. It gives me hope that more and more people of faith are capable of denouncing the hateful and partisan ideology that Republicans have counted on from the religious right for so long. And I like that this man is wise enough to understand that to hate or denounce anyone because of their sex, race, sexual orientation, income or political party affiliation is hardly Christ-like. Is it not the duty of the Christian to follow in Jesus’s footsteps?
I doubt Jesus would support not allowing homosexuals to marry, or an economic system that created the greatest income inequality we have ever known, or repealing a law that provides health care to everyone, or hurling insults of the vilest kind at people he disagreed with. Didn’t Jesus chose to walk amongst the poor? Didn’t Jesus say something about not throwing stones if one is a sinner? Jesus healed the sick, too, right?
Please, correct me if I am wrong.