Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another power trip, this time from the NAE. I've got to agree with those that think the NAE lost a great man in Rev. Richard Cizik.

Purists Insist on Groupthink and Denial of Independent Thought by Lawn Griffiths

The other day a friend was talking about the fascination of reading one of that triumvirate of powerful books about individualism and freedoms – “1984,” “Brave New World” and “Animal Farm.” It’s been more than 25 years since I read them, but they still provide some fundamental understanding about the triumph of human reasoning over the tyranny of mind control.

In this “Land of the Free,” there still remains groupthink, ironclad orthodoxy set at the top, straitjackets and threats for academicians in some institutions and the unquestioning of the top dog who somehow knows all.

We got a taste of it this week when the National Association of Evangelicals forced its vice president of government affairs, the Rev. Richard Cizik, to resign. He “misspoke,” by the association’s judgment, when he appeared on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” and asserted his support for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. That’s blasphemy in the NAE’s black-and-white world. Cizik acknowledged that he was “shifting” on the issue of marriage and now favors same-sex civil unions, if not same-sex marriage outright. Cizik had gotten in trouble several years ago when he displayed activism in acknowledging global warning when NAE was holding to the it’s-all-bunk position.

That’s the same National Association of Evangelicals that got embarrassed in November 2006 when Pastor Ted Haggard, NAE’s president and senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., had to resign after admitting to have a homosexual relationship with a male prostitute even when he has spoke out often against all things gay.

Two groups, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Institute on Religion and Democracy were quick to react to Cizik’s ouster. The HRC’s Harry Knox said NAE “lost a good man but even worse, it lost credibility as a religious organization that professes to teach the Gospel. Our faith traditions call on us to celebrate, not denounce, our most sacred loving relationships.” The IRD was far less critical, saying Cizik simply did not advocate positions that jibe with those of the NAE and most evangelicals. “The IRD hopes NAE can now focus on theological and ethical convictions that the evangelicals hold strongly in common.”

The Human Rights Campaign asserts that younger evangelicals “are overwhelmingly standing in support of equality and fairness.” It pointed to a poll taken in October by Public Religion Research, saying 52 percent of young evangelicals support either marriage equality or civil unions.

Social movements have a way of leaving dinosaurs under the debris from the winds of change.


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