Don't miss the latest interview. Evangelical minister and former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Richard Cizik was fired almost two years ago because of an interview he gave Terry Gross on "Fresh Air." In that interview, Cizik told Terry that he supported civil unions -- not gay marriage but civil unions for gays. That was too much for the right wing evangelicals.
Cizik came back the other day for a follow-up talk on "Fresh Air" and reveals that, though he has stuck with his church, his faith, and his dedication to his work, his mind continues to open and change. His appearance in '08 on "Fresh Air" and his subsequent firing by the National Association of Evangelicals has brought, he assures Terry, nothing but good.
Terry Gross: From your point of view as an insider, how did the evangelical movement damage evangelical witness in American culture?
Rev. CIZIK: It damaged it because it became perceived by millions and millions of Americans as captive to a conservative ideology, not captive to Jesus or to the Gospel but captive to an ideology that has departed from, in so many ways, from historic evangelicalism.
And so the movement has always been susceptible to reactionary movements. It was born out of reaction to the liberal, 19th-century biblical criticism in biology in which evangelicals reacted against that and moved away.
And yet the new evangelicals, the new evangelicals of the early 20th century, they saw the fallacy of that kind of approach towards society. But, ah, after a number of decades, that kind of neo-evangelicalism that was founded by the National Association of Evangelicals, well, it's fallen back into the same kind of subservience to reactionary-ism.
And so evangelicalism is known today by what it's against, not what it's for. And we're trying to say: We're for these things. And among those is, you see, this command to first and foremost in everything, follow Jesus, not the Republican Party or Rush Limbaugh or anyone else, but to follow what the Gospel says.
TG: You mention the Republican Party and Rush Limbaugh. Do you think that some of the positions that evangelicals have been taking politically are to keep that alliance with the Republican Party and with powerful people with microphones like Rush Limbaugh?
Rev. CIZIK: Oh, of course. In other words, there are strong forces within evangelicalism against change. Alfred North Whitehead, excuse me for quoting him for those of you who don't like him, he said change is inevitable.
Well, it is, and yet these evangelicals aren't willing to change even with the times about anything, and they've wedded themselves to a conservative political ideology, and it's impacted their view on things such as climate change and all the rest.