JAMES C. DOBSON, GARY L. BAUER, TONY PERKINS: FAR FROM THE KINGDOM, ENVIRONMENTALISM, SACRED WORK

Those who don't want to talk environmentalism but rather only focus on abortion and homosexuality are far from the kingdom. Destroy them which destroy the earth. — Revelation 11:18

The following is an important excerpt from: "People of Faith." SolveClimate. Last accessed: February 17, 2008:

In 2003, Rev. Jim Ball, head of the Evangelical Environment Network, launched his influential "What Would Jesus Drive" campaign. Around this time, progressive evangelicals began to drop the term environmentalism in favor of "creation care."

In 2004, the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) published its "Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility (PDF)," a platform that included global warming. Soon after, the influential Evangelical magazine Christianity Today ran an editorial in support of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. In February 2006, 85 evangelical leaders launched the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI). The ECI invokes biblical passages to link climate change with fundamental Christian convictions. Like the fact that climate change will hit the poor the hardest:

"We are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was Jesus Chirst himself (Mt. 22:34-40: Mt. 7:12; Mt. 25:31-46)."

In January 2007, the NAE announced a joint climate effort with scientific groups, called an Urgent Call to Action. And in April 2007, Pope Benedict for the first time urged bishops, scientists, and politicians to address climate change. He has since made several follow-up appeals.

And this doesn't even begin to cover the many interfaith projects. These include the Interfaith Declaration on the Moral Responsibility of the U.S. Government to Address Global Warming. It has 500 signatories from top leaders across the religious spectrum.

Not All Roses and Chocolate

While many people of faith are clearly energized, the conversion on the global warming issue has not been universal, especially in the Evangelical camp. As the NAE and other groups have forged a new breed of Evangelical environmentalism, others have accused the converted of diverting attention from more important issues, like abortion and homosexuality. These conservatives want to park the movement solidly on the wedge issues that have proven so politically divisive, and they've tried to banish the environmentalists in the process.

Back in March, some of them (James C. Dobson, Gary L. Bauer, and Tony Perkins, to name a few) wrote a letter (pdf) to NAE urging its board of directors to stop its policy director, Rev. Richard Cizik, from advocating climate action or force him to resign. They failed in their very public and very embarrassing bid.

The controversy over religion and politics is as old as this country. But the "wall of separation between church and state" can't stop the faith community from being an influence on politics and policy. It never has.

So while environmentalists (and most of America) keep pushing the climate science, the faith groups are increasingly pushing the moral authority of climate action. It's a collaboration that could change the face of climate action in Washington, and the entire world.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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