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Sustaining Idiocy By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 06, 2009

Former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) lobbyist Richard Cizik lost his job late last year after telling National Public Radio (NPR) that he supports same-sex unions. But Cizik is more renowned as an enthusiastic Global Warming alarmist. Not surprisingly, Cizik is now a senior fellow at the Ted Turner-funded United Nations Foundation.

In 2007, Cizik created the Scientists and Evangelicals Initiative with leftist Harvard biochemist Eric Chivian, best remembered for his 1980’s activism with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The activist physicians, which included Soviet doctors presumably acting at the behest of their regime, agitated for the Soviet-backed, failed nuclear freeze movement. For their dubious efforts to disarm the West and enshrine Soviet strategic superiority, they naturally received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

Flaking for Soviet-backed “peace” initiatives is now passé. So Chivian moved on to Global Warming as his next cause, founding Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment with other like minds who saw “global and environmental changes as Armageddon in slow motion.” Cizik and other evangelicals anxious for the New York Times' approval embraced climate activism as a cause that would elevate them above unsavory religious conservatives in the public consciousness. For a time, the strategy worked. Last year, Time magazine hailed Cizik and Chivian as among the world’s 100 most important people. Although now no longer affiliated with NAE, Cizik recently appeared at Harvard with Chivian on Charles Darwin’s birthday to tout their mutual goals of spreading climate alarmism.  

Chivian enjoys recalling that he had apprehensively first met Cizik in 2006, fearing that the evangelical probably viewed him as among Harvard’s "latte-sipping, Prius-driving, endive-munching, New York Times-reading snobs,” as Chivian later recalled to NPR. “ And we might have seen them [evangelicals] as Hummer-driving, bible-thumping, fire-breathing, [snake-handling fundamentalists].” But surprise, surprise! In fact, Chivian and Cizik not only both drove Priuses, they had so much else in common as well. Chivian offered Cizik further respectability among secular leftists. And Cizik offered Chivian an opportunity to exploit religion, about which he was not apparently otherwise deeply interested, for his own leftist environmental agenda.

As Chivian explained recently: “What was incredible and wonderful for us to learn about each other is that we shared a very, very deep reverence for life on Earth, that it was fundamental to who we were as people — and that we both felt committed to spending our lives working to protect the natural world.” In other words, both readily agreed that the whole planet would burn unless capitalism were somehow suppressed. In 2007, the Chivian-Cizik initiative journeyed to Alaska to witness firsthand all the terror and suffering ignited by Global Warming. “Scientists and evangelicals slept side by side last summer on the floor of a preschool in the Alaskan village of Shishmaref,” gushed one of Cizik’s colleagues to Time magazine. “We were there to see for ourselves the devastation of climate change on the Inupiaq Eskimos, whose island is eroding into the Chukchi Sea.”

In an article for The Huffington Post, Chivian and Cizik breathlessly reported about their Alaska expedition: “Glaciers are melting rapidly, contributing to sea level rise; sea ice and permafrost are fast disappearing, threatening many species like polar bears with extinction and exposing some Native Inupiat coastal communities to massive erosion and great human suffering; streams and rivers are becoming too warm for salmon to spawn; and million of acres of spruce trees have been dying, infested by bark beetles whose populations have exploded secondary to the warming.” Helpfully, the Chivian-Cizik initiative, so full of dire warnings, offers climate sermons for evangelical ministers and, if the clergy are not sufficiently confident to sound their own alarm about climate apocalypse, then willing scientists are offered for Sunday sermons. Cizik has counseled the scientists to refer to the environment as “the creation,” so as to be more persuasive with evangelicals.   

According to the Harvard News Office, Cizik declared that the Bible is the most “sustainable” book in human history. And he is committed, with Chivian, to allowing the “truth to be heard” about the impending eco-disasters if humanity does not repent of its carbon sins. “There is no such thing as a liberal or conservative environment, or a secular or religious one,” Chivian chimed in, according to the Harvard Crimson. “Many people do not realize that climate change is a public health problem.  Human beings are an inseparable part of nature. The disconnect that people feel with the natural world lies underneath their indifference to global warming.”

With Chivian no doubt nodding in the background, Cizik asserts that “overwhelming empirical evidence” proves that “we humans are causing” catastrophic climate change. “I now can ‘see’ what God intended all along,” Cizik has enthused, noting the supposedly divine irony that it was scientists who opened his eyes to the wonders of Global Warming.   Cizik likes to boast that it was he, over 26 years ago, who penned the letter that invited Ronald Reagan to deliver his “evil empire” speech to Cizik’s NAE. Will Cizik similarly be able to boast of his role in climate alarmism 26 years from now? Probably not, though Chivian evidently feels no regret over his own disarmament campaign that would have, if successful, kept the evil empire alive.

Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

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