Richard Cizik: Evangelical Requests to Meet With McCain Unanswered

cizik.jpgGod-o-Meter caught up this week with Richard Cizik, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s largest evangelical organization. Cizik made news earlier in the week in Colorado Springs for questioning whether John McCain was a “principled person” and for “waffling on issue after issue.” Cizik told GOM that requests from him and other evangelicals to meet with John McCain have gone unanswered, that when it comes to voting “a lot of evangelical don’t think,” and spoke candidly about racism Barack Obama may face within the white church.
Despite all Barack Obama’s evangelical outreach efforts, polls show evangelical support for John McCain is approaching George W. Bush-like levels. That surprise you?
We do some of our own polling, so I had advance notice that there were some deep-seated suspicions of Obama. I wasn’t surprised. I was a little disappointed. Not that I’m an Obama supporter. But I am interested in broadening the agenda of [evangelical] concerns. And I’m of the opinion that some people are going to vote Republican no matter what…. Party line voting in my opinion is unbiblical. It says you don’t think. If you’re simply voting on same sex marriage and abortion, you’re not thinking. What I’m saying is that a lot of evangelical don’t think, sad to say. The same is true for African Americans who, no matter who the candidate is they’re just going to vote for the Democratic Party. So the African American left and the Religious Right is foolish.
So politically speaking, maybe the evangelical movement is changing less than the news media would have us believe.
There’s a demographic shift that’s occurring. Young [evangelicals] are less tied to the Republican Party. Those who are disaffected with the GOP are not becoming Democrats. They’re becoming Independents. It’s a slow moving earthquake that you don’t fully recognize. I’m not trying to move anyone to become a Democrat, but to a spiritual, moral, and religious awakening. If all I’m about is making someone a Democrat, that’s not real change, to quote Barack Obama. Real change occurs not when someone switches from one party to another but when people shift their way of thinking.
The McCain campaign has beefed up its religious outreach efforts recently. How is their evangelical outreach going?
We put in a request with the McCain campaign and it was never responded to. Many figures in the Republican Party have reached out to the campaign stating their concern that the candidate has not reached out to evangelical leaders, but it went nowhere. And since we’re so deep into the campaign, we can only assume that we’re not going to get an answer. We had some people, including a governor and a major party official, who said to the campaign, “I think you should meet with some of these evangelicals.” I have subsequently interpreted that they didn’t think they needed to because they had an idea of their own and that maybe that was Sarah Palin.
Has the Obama campaign reached out to the National Association of Evangelicals?
We put in a request and an answer came back rather quickly: They wanted us to come to a meeting in Chicago with some 25 other leaders. And I went. One is left to conclude that the McCain people have concluded that they don’t need such a meeting.
Given those polls showing overwhelming evangelical support for McCain, don’t they have a point?
Those polls are a snapshot that may not reflect other realities. The economy is becoming a big issue, and that was before the Wall Street meltdown. So it’s not over and this whole bailout picture is good evidence that the party of fiscal discipline and sanity, the Republicans, has become the party of socialized bailouts and fiscal liberalism.
Evangelicals are 50-percent conservative. There are 10 percent that are liberal, and you’ve got 40-percent that are swing voters. They’re the people that McCain has to worry about because if, for whatever reason–the economy, etc.–they go for Obama, then McCain is in trouble. If they decide to vote on economic reasons or the war, then McCain is in trouble. From what the Obama people have said to me, if they can just get the percentage of people that Clinton got, they’ll win this election. If I were a betting man, I would have to say the advantage goes to Obama.
But hasn’t Obama undermined a lot of his evangelical outreach with very liberal positions on issues like abortion?
As evidenced from Saddleback, where McCain did well by himself and Obama did not, Obama has got some work cut out for him. And there is there is the factor that we all know exists and that few people will talk about: the race factor. Some surveys show that 20-percent of the electorate will not vote for a black man for president, which exceeds the difference between Kerry and Bush in ’04…. Somebody’s going to vote for somebody not on the basis of the content of his character but on the color of his skin and that’ just called sin with a capital S because racism is a sin. And we all knew that racism has been in a lot of the white church.
Are you saying that racist anti-Obama sentiment is more prevalent within the church?
I certainly hope not. I hope and pray not, because if that happens it’s a terrible blot on the integrity of our church….. those people ought to be embarrassed, and held accountable in the church. We hold people accountable for sins of other kinds.
Do you still consider yourself a Republican?
After this election, I’d have to evaluate my party. I still consider myself a Republican–a somewhat dissatisfied Republican who’s presently disappointed in McCain in some respects. I think he’s shifting his position on some long-held issues. That doesn’t mean I won’t vote for him. If you’re evaluating them on environmental issues, Obama’s certainly a stronger candidate. There are a lot of people in the GOP who can’t stomach McCain’s view on the environment and he’s going to have to pay homage to those voices. On the other hand, the only person who could change the GOP on that issue is John McCain.


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posted September 26, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Somebody’s going to vote for somebody not on the basis of the content of his character but on the color of his skin and that’ just called sin with a capital S because racism is a sin. And we all knew that racism has been in a lot of the white church.
Wow. Well, someone had to say it.

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posted September 26, 2008 at 1:04 pm

I got directed to this site by Sullivan. Although I am not religious, I respect the fact that many people are. However, I have been concerned with the stubbernness of some evangelicals and some far left-wingers (both sides) to completely disregard, insult and diminish the other side. At a dinner a few weeks ago, some of the so-called Christians there were saying things like “If someone doesn’t believe in God, you can’t just tell them they are going to Hell. They aren’t moral people and are going to hell, but you have to work up to it.” There are CERTAINLY non-religious people who are very dismissive of religious people. It’s very comforting to me to see influential Christian leaders and left-wing leaders be open to other ideas, even if they don’t agree with them. I don’t need to agree with someone to respect that they have their own ideas and opinions. I think this can only help our country. Thanks for having a calm discourse amongst all the wing-nuttery from both sides!

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LaShawn , Pensacola FL

posted September 26, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Wow, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and open-mindedness. I was making the point the other day that the Republican party uses evangelicals as pawns. Look, we have had a pro-life president for 8 years. Abortions have’nt gone down. Guess what he has not pushed the issue. He has not pushed the gay marriage issue. the issues are only used to win elections every 4 years. Every year the GOP run unscrupulous campaigns and talk about family values at the same time. I say evangelicals create there own party, if they really want there voices heard. Mccain is going to turn on thr right once elected. The right has never excepted him and he has a vindictive nature. I personally think that he turn on “the agents of intolerance” once he does’nt need their votes anymore. He has already expressed he may only serve 1 term. He will also have a majority dem congress to deal with. He wont be able to confirm conservative judges, or do any of the things that the dems won’t let him do. If American makes the right choice based on who has the right level of integrity, intelligence,leadership, and vision, then Barack Obama will be our next president. If not then the bigots win. America the God is watching.

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posted September 27, 2008 at 7:35 am

Preach on! Now those are comments I can agree with. Finally, someone that can parse these ideals. I am an African American, Democratic, Evangelical and “church folks” need to think for themselves and not sway back and forth based on ideologies that someone else has created for them to believe. Jesus does not reside within any particular political party (quite frankly, he regularly rebuked the political establishments of his time…which later gave them motive to crucify Him in a highly political, kangaroo court system). But politics does have a place in our society…to establish law of the land and to be good stewards of what our forefathers have left to us and our Heavenly Father has blessed us to be charge over. Thank you Mr. Cizik.

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posted September 29, 2008 at 6:00 pm

John McCain I believe is a God loving person. I am a Democrat, but I will not be voting for the person on the Democratic ballot, I don’t believe in MUSLIM’s belief at all.
I pray that God will be with John McCain & Sarah Pralin.

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posted September 29, 2008 at 7:28 pm

it’s amazing how people keep themselves ignorant despite all the facts and the truth. Obama is not a Mulsim. The fact that you can’t even write his name is very telling.

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posted September 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

George W. Bush was the most “evangelical”-friendly POTUS we’ve ever had – and he’s done nothing except use us for political gain.
We’ve been stained by his failings – torture policies, supporting a corrupt Wall Street, making Big Oil more important than American security, losing our moral leadership with the rest of the world, Now look where it’s led us – ruinous wars based on lies and a failing economy!
McCain is now doing the exact same thing – using us for political gain. At least Obama (who is not a Muslim, but a Christian!)speaks the truth, does not flip-flop his position day-to-day to “win” votes, and wants to lead by unifying and not dividing the American people.

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posted September 30, 2008 at 8:48 pm

What do others think of Richard Cizik? Go to to find out.

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posted September 30, 2008 at 10:58 pm

How anybody can still keep repeating the lie that Obama is Muslim is beyond my understanding. I can only assume that it is deliberate ignorance to hide very deep racism.

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posted October 1, 2008 at 11:06 am

It is unfortunate for the american church that racism still throb in their hearts.Would Christ be involve in the politics of the day? Are they truly the Bride Christ is coming to take away? This not the time to play politics in the church of the living God, but it is time for them to pray that God will select a good leader for them (whether Obama or McCain)and hold on to the truths of the Bible.

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posted October 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm

What the hell (oops):) is an Evangelical anyway? Love your neighbor, and love your enemies and love God and stay humble, this makes a person a real Christian. Visit widows in their distress and stay unspotted from the world-James, everything else is ego and window dressing..
at least he admits voting party line is unbiblical, he seems to have reason and calls out the intolerant fools who vote on one issue..

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posted October 4, 2008 at 2:44 am

does not flip-flop his position day-to-day to “win” votes, and wants to lead by unifying and not dividing the American people
Where have you been? I wish I had time to write for you the many many times Obama has changed his position, how many times he has “lied”. He comes out against all kinds of things and for all kinds of things. ALL THAT HAS CHANGED AND HE IS FOR NOTHING HE ORIGINALLY SAID HE WAS.
You should watch Hannity and Colmes, Glenn Beck, and Lou Dobbs and you will be amazed at what you did not know about Obama.
He is a big reason behind this mortgage problem – it began in Chicago with his criminal friends and terrorists.

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posted October 4, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Hateful extremism is a difficult challenge and sad reality that our nation faces. Crypto-fascist, pseudo-news shows like those hosted by Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs are the very last place a Christian should go in search of information, truth, or knowledge.
Glenn Beck is a bully, much the same as Shawn Hannity or Bill O’Reilly. When his guests say something he finds totally wrong, he tells them to “shut their pie hole”. He claims to despise radical extremists and yet that is what he is – a radical extremist who stands on his own pedestal, smugly passing judgments left and right on every topic under the sun. Christian values of compassion, love, and tolerance are nonexistent in his rhetoric; it’s all about having a platform to incite, divide, and generate more hate.
The Lou Dobbs Tonight program preaches jingoism, hate and xenophobia. Dobbs demonizes immigrants with false scaremongering. He promotes groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR founder John Tanton, (formerly of the Pioneer Fund), believes that some races of people are genetically and intellectually superior to other races and is an avid supporter of eugenics. The Southern Poverty Law Center has named FAIR a “hate group.” (The list of other groups which have earned this distinction from SPLC include: the Ku Klux Klan, American neo-Nazi groups, and the Aryan Nations.) Dobbs gave FAIR a national platform when he hosted his show from one of their recent gatherings.
Christians, like all other Americans, must be vigilant about where they get their news. If it looks like hate, speaks like hate, sounds like hate – it’s probably not based on the guiding principles of Christ.

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