Cizik Blasts McCain’s Sell Out to the Right

Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, has not been particularly popular with the leaders of the Religious Right in recent years.

For instance, last year James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Gary Bayer and other tried to get him fired from his job at NAE because they feared that his efforts to get evangelicals to care about issues like global warming would undermine their own narrow anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda. 

And then, earlier this year, when NAE tried to host a dialogue between Christian and Muslim leaders, the Right again reacted badly, calling it a “sellout” and accused those who participated of “betraying the Christian faith.”

And considering that, at the moment, the Right is busy fawning over John McCain and his decision to name Sarah Palin as his running mate, it is probably safe to assume that Cizik’s already low popularity among Religious Right political powerbrokers is not going to be increasing any time soon:

Richard Cizik is one of the country’s most powerful and outspoken Christian evangelical leaders. He happens to be a Republican, and he has known the GOP’s presidential nominee for many years. “I thought John McCain was a principled person,” Cizik says. “But John McCain has backed off, not just on climate change but on torture and a sensible tax policy — in other words, he’s not the John McCain of 2000. … He seems to be waffling on issue after issue.

“It’s not illogical for someone to conclude that John McCain is going to be more like George Bush than John McCain is going to be like John McCain in 2000.”

“It is pretty obvious that the Palin nomination plays to identity politics and cultural war issues,” says Cizik. “Her selection is more than an acknowledgment that evangelicals are an important part of the Republican base, and everyone knows that John McCain is not that exciting to religious conservatives.”

Palin, Cizik says, has certainly excited the Republican base, and picking her was certainly a deft, if cynical, political move by McCain — at least in the short term. However, in the longer view, his running mate may do just as much to energize the opposition and prove a turn-off to independents.

“Not everyone in the evangelical movement is fawning over Sarah Palin,” Cizik says … “He’s playing that card, and many of us thought he didn’t need to do it — it just polarizes the country,” Cizik says. “The irony of it is that John McCain can’t speak with an evangelical voice of faith — let’s face it, it’s just not his thing — so I guess the substitute is this other [Palin]. I guess that’s pretty cynical, but maybe his actions are cynical.

“The consequences of going to identity and culture-war politics is that experience is denigrated, authority is questioned and ignorance is strength,” Cizik says.