My old friend Rich Cizik has built his stereotypical right-wing straw man and then burned him with righteous unction. This is disingenuous, and I suspect he knows it.
Contra Cizik’s claim, the Family Research Council does not pursue an agenda that “fits snugly” with any political party or ideological agenda. We work actively with organizations across the board on matters of great concern to our culture. Twice this year alone we have done broadcasts on human trafficking and sexual slavery, for example; somehow I fail to see how this is a partisan issue.
Cizik cites the “Circle of Protection” document as evidence of a new evangelical coalescence around an expanded social vision. What he fails to note is that relatively few mainstream evangelical leaders have signed this document. Instead, the broader evangelical community has launched its own initiative, “Christians for a Sustainable Economy,” in which we call for practical and effective solutions to protect the poor and also alleviate their poverty. Unlike the signers of the “Circle of Protection,” our confidence in the efficacy of federal anti-poverty programs is minimal. In an era when 70 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock – up from 25 percent when the “war on poverty” began in 1965 – such confidence indeed seems misplaced.
Notably absent from Cizik’s proposed agenda are critical moral issues like abortion (yes, the fact of over 3,000 abortions per day still matters even though you would rather not discuss it), same-sex marriage (concerning which Cizik has a non-traditional evangelical perspective) the breakdown of the traditional family, and the erosion of religious liberty through judicial and legislative action.
Instead of dealing in an intellectually honest manner with the concerns of social conservatives, Cizik instead constructs a virtual parody of the “Religious Right” and, with a wide rhetorical smirk, dismembers it. How sad.
Perhaps Cizik should actually visit Family Research Council’s Web site, where he will find our “Real Compassion” page. On this page we highlight Christian ministries that address issues of adoption, hunger, abuse, mental health, and trafficking, at home and abroad. We link to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Catholic Charities organizations, each of which features hundreds of ministries that help those most on the downside of advantage.
On one at least implied point Cizik is correct: Social conservatives, while committed to the sound protection and use of God’s created order, are more concerned with protecting unborn life than protecting the Acadian Whitefish. Yep – we plead guilty to that one.
Christians throughout history have cared for those most in need in every way they can, from protecting abandoned infants in the days of Rome to defending the unborn and their vulnerable mothers today; from opening clinics in the slums of Kolkata to caring for AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa; from standing with those persecuted for their faith in China to protecting religious liberty here at home; from mobile ultrasound units that protect life in our inner cities to Pregnancy Care Centers that offer hope to women in crisis. Name the need; you will find conservative evangelicals seeking to meet it.
Over the years, Cizik has done much good, more than readily can be recounted. From defending persecuted Christians in the developing world to the time when he and I sat together and wept for joy as President Bush signed into law the ban on partial-birth abortion, Cizik’s long-time legacy is a welcome one. It is my hope, and prayer, that my beloved brother will return to it.
Robert Schwarzwalder is senior vice president at the Family Research Council.