In the fall of 2005, Joel Hunter, the senior pastor of a 12,000-member megachurch in central Florida, signed on to the Evangelical Climate Initiative—a landmark public statement acknowledging that human actions were causing the Earth to warm. The central message—“creation care,” as it became known—was that the biblical commandment to protect God’s creation was relevant to modern-day environmental issues. Soon, Hunter had distributed 20,000 creation care pamphlets to pastors around the country, and his parishioners were sifting through garbage to see how much trash his church produced.
Welcome to TNR’s 2011 list issue. Earlier this week we named the most over-covered stories, DC’s most over-rated thinkers, and the most powerful, least famous people in Washington. Today’s installment: TNR’s Favorite People in DC. RICHARD CIZIK As the National Association of Evangelicals’ chief lobbyist in D.C. for ten years, Richard Cizik pushed evangelical-supported legislation. That is, until he was ousted in 2008 for his increasingly progressive opinions—he told NPR that his views were “shifting” on gay marriage and implied that he had voted for Barack Obama.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was gleeful after Richard Cizik, chief lobbyist of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), was forced to resign on December 11. Perkins and other “family values” leaders had been trying to get rid of Cizik for two years, ever since he launched a campaign to add environmentalism to the evangelical “values” agenda. Though Cizik lost his job over comments endorsing civil unions, not because of his attention to what evangelicals call “creation care,” Perkins still claimed his ouster as a repudiation of the green agenda.
I've always like Richard Cizik, until yesterday the top lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals. But I have also always suspected that he was going to get in trouble for his aggressive, not entirely orthodox position on global warming and "creation care" in general. (Take this interview, for instance.) As the WaPo notes, it was just last year that Cizik received a snippy letter from a dozen prominent religious leaders, including Focus on the Family's increasingly self-important James C. Dobson, urging him to either drop his "relentless campaign" on global warming or resign.
When James Dobson gets angry, people notice. And, in early March, the influential chair of Focus on the Family fired off a very angry letter to the board of the National Association of Evangelicals. Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council signed it. So did Gary Bauer. So did 22 other conservative Christian leaders. Their complaint? It seems that Richard Cizik, NAE's vice-president for governmental affairs, had been sounding the alarm on global warming.
Rick Santorum has enough trouble in his reelection race. The incumbent GOP senator has trailed his opponent, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey, by double digits almost since Casey declared his candidacy. Santorum's campaign has been mired in questions about why Pennsylvanians pay to homeschool his six children in Virginia and about his involvement with the now-infamous K Street Project. Even Republicans have privately started to refer to Santorum's campaign as a lost cause and are lobbying party leaders to shift money to more promising contests.