Our political climate is intolerant of compromise. Two people who tried to bring people together are finding out how hard it is to do.
Richard Cizik tried to lead evangelical Christians to compassionate action on a broader range of problems than abortion and traditional marriage. For example, he believed that if Christians believe in creation, they should be more concerned about preserving God’s good creation than in trying to caluculate how long ago the world was made. He also led in efforts to fight AIDS and human trafficking.
Some of his critics thought he was leading the faithful away from “moral issues”–as though issues that effect the life, death, and dignity of all people are not moral issues. Two years ago they tried to oust him from his job as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals due to his embracing of “Creation Care.” The plan backfired. It turned out most evangelicals are fond of this planet.
This week, they finally got him. On an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, he said he was opposed to same-sex marriage–but maybe civil unions weren’t a bad idea. His enemies demanded–and got–his resignation. Nicholas Kristoph called Cizik a “huggable evangelical” and said his resignation made for a sad day.
On the other side of the fence, supporters of gay rights are furious with president-elect Obama for asking Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. Why? Because Warren is opposed to gay marriage and abortions that are not medically necessary. Obama’s stated position is that he does not favor same-sex marriage, but he does favor civil unions.
Rick Warren has raised millions of dollars to fight AIDS in Africa, and has encouraged the faithful to support progressive causes. In fact, he helped get Obama elected when he invited both candidates to a forum at his church. The president is returning the favor and strenghtening the personal friendship and political alliance he has made (more). What some would call compromise and bringing people together, others would call betrayal.