Evangelical's Global Warming Stance Disturbs Some Christian Leaders

Dozens of prominent evangelical leaders signed a letter pressing the National Association of Evangelicals to stop or encourage to resign one of its top officials for his outspoken stance on global warming.

The letter, sent last week to the NAE board, was signed by Christian leaders such as James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family; Gary L. Bauer, president of Coalitions for America; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Bishop Harry R. Jackson, founder and president of High Impact Leadership Coalition among others.

Signers of the letter voiced serious concerned about the vocal views of the Rev. Richard Cizik, NAE’s vice president for government relations, on the global warming controversy.

The evangelical leaders, none of whose organizations are a part of the 30 million-member NAE, said they are worried that Cizik is dividing the Association with the global warming debate by speaking as if all evangelicals in the NAE has the same views as him.

The prominent leaders also highlighted that Cizik’s focus on the global warming issue has diverted attention away from more important evangelical agendas such as homosexuality and abortion.

“We have observed,” the letter stated, “that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time...”

However, the Rev. Leith Anderson, current NAE president who took over after the Rev. Ted Haggard’s drug and sex allegations, has defended Cizik calling him “a great asset” to the organization.

“We’re talking about somebody here who’s been in Washington for 25 years, has an amazing track record and is highly respected,” Anderson told The New York Times.

Anderson is the first on the list of supporters for the Evangelical Climate Initiative and was one of the speakers in Washington to launch the initiative.

“This issue [of creation-care] will not be of any higher priority than any other, but my stance is public and self-explanatory,” Anderson had said to The Christian Post soon after he was appointed as the interim president of the NAE in November.

The concerns expressed in the letter by conservative evangelicals echo those heard earlier in January when Cizik helped launch a new climate change coalition composed of evangelicals and scientists.

Cizik was publicly criticized by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, a group formed by evangelicals, for misrepresenting their views on global warming.

ISA said that Cizik made it appear that there was a “growing consensus” among evangelicals about global warming when there was not. While Cizik and his coalition believe the warming of the earth is caused by human activities, Alliance members believe it is mainly naturally caused.

The NAE policy director was also accused of speaking on issues such as global warming for the NAE without the authorization of the organization.

“I speak with a voice that is authentically evangelical on all the issues, from religious freedom around the world, to compassion for the poor, ending oppression in Darfur – and yes, creation care is one of those issues,” said Cizik, according to the Washington Post on Friday.

The NAE board is scheduled to meet this week in Minnesota where Anderson resides.

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