Evangelical leader resigns after admitting "shift" on gay marriage

Richard Cizik stepped down from the National Association of Evangelicals after moderate remarks on the issue caused the group's leadership to lose "confidence" in him.

Published December 12, 2008 10:48PM (EST)

Work for a major evangelical group? Feeling like maybe it's time to moderate your opposition to same-sex marriage? Probably best to just keep your mouth shut.

That's what the Rev. Richard Cizik, formerly the vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, learned recently. His trouble began when he gave an interview to NPR's Terry Gross in which, asked about the issue, he said:

I'm shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. . . . We have become so absorbed in the question of gay rights and the rest that we fail to understand the challenges and threats to marriage itself -- heterosexual marriage. Maybe we need to reevaluate this and look at it a little differently.

Cizik apologized, but the damage was done. Rev. Leith Anderson, the NAE's president, told the Washington Post, "he lost the leadership's confidence as spokesman, and that's hard to regain." So this week, after meeting with Anderson, Cizik resigned.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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