Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christian Environmentalists

One of the major national evangelical Christian organizations is continuing to push our country to clean up the environment.

In the NYT, this push by the National Association of Evangelicals is described as bringing a "surprise ally" to the environmentalists. The Association's point man on this topic, Richard Cizik, said,
"Genesis 2:15," citing a passage that serves as the justification for the effort: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

"We believe that we have a rightful responsibility for what the Bible itself challenges. Working the land and caring for it go hand in hand. That's why I think, and say unapologetically, that we ought to be able to bring to the debate a new voice."
This, of course, is not always a viewpoint conservatives agree with. The NYT quoted Senator James Inhofe (R-OK),

"You can always find in Scriptures a passage to misquote for almost anything," dismissing the position of Mr. Cizik's association as "something very strange."

Mr. Inhofe said the vast majority of the nation's evangelical groups would oppose global warming legislation as inconsistent with a conservative agenda that also includes opposition to abortion rights and gay rights. He said the National Evangelical Association had been "led down a liberal path" by environmentalists and others who have convinced the group that issues like poverty and the environment are worth their efforts.

Will environmentalism become a piece of the Christian political agenda?


Jason said...

He said the National Evangelical Association had been "led down a liberal path" by environmentalists and others who have convinced the group that issues like poverty and the environment are worth their efforts.

Huh? Is he implying that dealing with issues like poverty and the environment are NOT worth the effort? How could an evangelical claim that poverty is not worth addressing? How could Christians (who speak so often of stewardship, at least in reference to money) NOT protect the environment?

Mind boggling.

Westy said...

As I understand it, the traditional conservative perspective was that the Earth was ours to have dominion over. Preserving it was not of utmost importance since it's only a temporary home.

Greg said...

Jason, yeah, I thought the same thing when I first read that part. It definitely has left me somewhat confused. My hunch is that the second half of that sentence is just poorly worded by the author. (Although, we'd need to see the senator's entire quote to be sure.)

the_dude said...

The danger here is someone trying to use the following piece of logic:

Genesis 2:15 clearly calls man to take care of the Earth, so therefore the United States should sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. What, you're against the Kyoto treaty? Oh man, can't you see that Scripture clearly calls for us to support it?!

This type of argument is simply taking a liberal (sorry, 'progressive') talking point and adding a Bible verse to support it. You can make God's word support a lot of wacky things with this technique. Christians should definitely be good stewards of the earth, and the early conservation movement was led in that spirit, but much of modern environmentalism puts the worth of animals and plants at or above the worth of human beings, which is clearly contrary to God's word. It is worthwhile to read and understand who John Muir was and what he stood for before we go along with the Sierra Club. So, higher mileage vehicles - I'm right there with ya. Devastating the U.S. economy with ridiculous emission restrictions that the developing world is free to ignore? I say try again. Just my two cents...

Westy said...

Would Kyoto actually devastate the U.S. economy, though?
Or would it just cut into certain entities' profit.

Jason said...

I find it hard to believe that the economic devastation from signing Kyoto would be greater than the economic devastation of year after year of record breaking hurricane seasons slamming into the Gulf coast and Florida. While I am by no means an expert in this area, there are indications that rising sea temperatures (which are fueling these mega-hurricanes) are resulting from global warming. This isn't really about cute little owls or whatever Sierra Club is after, it's about human lives and human habitats.

pepperdeaf said...

>>just cut into certain entities' profit<<

right on westy.

>>the developing world is free to ignore<<

others' failure to live up to godly standards does not mean that we should not. that is what integrity is; steadfast adherence to our morals regardless of consequences.

the_dude said...

>>that is what integrity is; steadfast adherence to our morals regardless of consequences.<<

This seems to be a reasonable working definition of integrity. I think it does take integrity to look at a flawed treaty and say, "Wait, this doesn't make sense. China is not even in this thing at all and they are the number 2 producer of greenhouse gases. Also, a lot of really smart people who crunch numbers for a living are pretty sure this will result in a net decrease in GDP. Is it right for me to put people out of work so that Kofi Annan can pat me on the back?" Steadfastly refusing to deny people a livelihood, without regard for how the EU will look down on you. I'll take it.

Westy said...

...rising sea temperatures...
As far as I know, there is little evidence that the current upturn in hurricane frequency caused by higher sea temperatures is anything out of the ordinary pattern.
In addition, it is likely that even full implementation of the Kyoto protocols would not affect the weather enough to affect something like this if it were the cause.
However, I don't think that there's anything wrong with attempting to work out a solution to the problem. It's easy for the US to say right now that they'd sign it if China and India would, but what can we do in the interim? How about take some meaningful steps to eliminate mercury pollution. Here's a situation in which the cost surely is less than the benefit. And I don't care how many peoples' jobs it costs, if it's saving peoples' lives, it may be worth it.
Dude, did you see the movie "Erin Brockovitch"? Ok, this lady took down the big evil utility company. Many people (mostly innocent I'm sure) likely lost their job in that company. But was that not okay considering the devastation they were causing?

pepperdeaf said...

>>And I don't care how many peoples' jobs it costs, if it's saving peoples' lives, it may be worth it.<<

amen. americans in general can perhaps make arguments based solely upon the economy, but i believe christians are called to a much greater responsibility.

the_dude said...

Westy, hopefully I did not sound as if I was arguing that illegal behavior is acceptable because the cost of stopping it is a lack of jobs. In the PG&E case, punitive measures were clearly in order because the company broke a lot of laws and covered up a lot of stuff.

>americans in general can perhaps make arguments based
>solely upon the economy, but i believe christians are
>called to a much greater responsibility.

I was going to take issue with what is said here, but I realized that each phrase of this sentence is so hopelessly broad that there is really very little to respond to. You should recognize that 1. It is a fallacy to believe economic downturn just means smaller profits for huge corporations, since new jobs come from small businesses. 2. Using the word "economy" instead of using the words "jobs" and "livelihoods" doesn't mean you aren't talking about jobs and livelihoods. Is it so American to worry about eating? Are you going to get the slash-and-burn Christian farmer in South America to stop growing crops to feed his kids because of "higher responsibilities?" I understand that you see people driving Hummers with a Jesus fish on the back and that sets you off. But it is hard to not read elitism in the words you have written, as if I am arguing for the bottom line of General Electric. You have previously asked on your own blog, "Where is the war on poverty?" Why now would you propose an action to decrease the probability that there are enough jobs for the population, thus making such a "war" even more difficult?