NAE Launches Search for New Gov't Liaison

America's largest evangelical body launched a search for a new director of government affairs on Tuesday to replace Richard Cizik who was forced to resign in December over controversial remarks he made about same-sex civil unions and abortion.

The National Association of Evangelicals, which claims to represent 30 million evangelicals, is considering candidates who can represent the organization before Congress, the White House and the Courts based on the principles found in the NAE document For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.

"The director to our government affairs office has always played a central role in the public advocacy of the National Association of Evangelicals," said NAE president Leith Anderson. "There have been only three directors in our history of more than 60 years. We want the very best person and look forward to this new addition to our Washington staff team."

Required qualifications include, among others, personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, agreement to and affirmation of the NAE Statement of Faith, and participation in an NAE affiliated congregation.

Candidates must also possess knowledge of evangelical beliefs, history and community, along with experience in government affairs and a familiarity with politics and policies of concern to evangelicals.

The past NAE vice president for governmental affairs, Richard Cizik, had held the position for 28 years and was a key go-to person in Washington when it came to evangelicals and public policy.

After spearheading a campaign involving evangelicals and climate change, Cizik's popularity soared with secular media. He was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2008 for his climate change advocacy.

But a National Public Radio (NPR) interview in December landed him in trouble and ended his career with NAE when he said a pro-life Christian could still find reason to support an abortion rights candidate, and expressed support for gay civil unions.

He was soon after asked to resign after meeting with the NAE president for discussion.

The NAE represents some 45,000 churches from 50 denominations in the United States. The group's official position is opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

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