A sometimes polarizing religious leader resigned Thursday from the National Association of Evangelicals after a radio interview in which he voiced support for same-sex civil unions and said he is "shifting" on gay marriage.
The Rev. Richard Cizik's comments - made on a Dec. 2 "Fresh Air" broadcast on National Public Radio - triggered criticism that led to his stepping down as the group's vice president of governmental affairs.
A fixture in Washington for nearly three decades, Cizik (pronounced SIGH-zick) has played a key role in bringing evangelical Christian concerns to the political table. But in recent years, he drew criticism from within the movement for pushing to broaden the evangelical agenda.
Group president the Rev. Leith Anderson said Thursday that the resignation was necessary because some of his answers in the interview did not reflect the group's values and convictions.
The association said in a statement that Cizik had expressed regret, apologized and "affirmed our values."
Cizik could not be reached for comment.
Among Cizik's critics has been Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based evangelical group founded by James Dobson.
"It was time for him to go," Tom Minnery, a Focus on the Family senior vice president, said Thursday. "He no longer represents the view of evangelicalism. He has not represented those views for some time."