GLOBAL WARMING (April 2006)
Status Quo, or a look inside the American
I saw a report on CNN not that long ago, March 14Th to be precise, about a
disagreement within the evangelical community regarding Global Warming. It seems
Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Don Wildman and a host of others are not happy with
the attention Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is
giving to environmental issues. Richard Cizik is the NAE’s vice president for
governmental relations in Washington, D.C.
On March 1, 2007 they sent a letter to Dr. L. Roy Taylor,
current Chairman of the Board of the NAE, asking him to rein in Cizik. They
claim that he is using the global warming controversy to shift emphasis away
from the great moral issues of our time. These issues are the sanctity of human
life, the integrity of marriage, and the teaching of sexual abstinence and
morality to our children.
Now I agree that these are indeed very important issues, and
we should be teaching them to our children. Please take note of the word we
in that last sentence. Morality, sexual or otherwise is something that is handed
down from parent to child. It is not something the government should be in the
business of enforcing. Parents have not been doing their job. We have not
been talking to our children about these things nor have we been setting the
right examples. The divorce rate among Christian families is just as high as
among non Christian families. Our neglect over the last, I’d say fifty years has
made it necessary for someone to try to fill that gap.
We have failed to teach our children how important marriage
is, why they should wait to have sex, and how to take responsibility for their
actions. That is why abortion rates are so high, why our sons and daughters have
no respect for themselves or each other. It is also why marriages fail at such a
high rate. Not top condone them, but it is not the gay couple that lives up the
Parents dropped the ball, so the government had to pick it
up. Schools had to start teaching sex ed classes in increasingly earlier grades
because girls kept getting pregnant at younger and younger ages. The schools had
to include birth control in these classes because guess what?... Kids leave
school and go home to empty houses. These kids kept producing kids of their own.
We all know this isn’t just an inner city problem, nor is it limited to broken
homes or homes where both parents work.
Abortion clinics are the natural progression of all of this.
The schools taught our kids how sex works, gave them condoms and sent them on
their merry little way. We the parents were so busy keeping up with the Jones or
so worried about bruising their precious little egos that we failed to give them
any real moral center from which to make decisions.
The moral mess that America is in is our fault and no amount
of legislation is going to fix it. If you want to fix the problem, then start at
home. If you give your children a moral center based on scripture, they in turn
will give it to their children and so on down the line. That is the way it
works. If your children leave your home armed with your morals and a Bible, they
have a far better chance. If we were truly setting the example for our children
in the home, then we would not have to worry so much about what they see and
hear out in the world. If you are setting a good example for them, then for the
love of all that’s holy, have some faith in God to protect them.
Yet the Christian Right keeps focusing our attention outward.
They keep pushing for the government to make sure that everyone outside our
homes is leaving up to our standard of morality. Government has become
their refuge and their strength!
"If we can just over turn Roe V. Wade, every thing
will be ok".
"If we can stop homosexuals from getting married, that
will save the American family".
"If we can get one more conservative judge on the
Supreme Court then the world will be just ducky again and we will be able to
reclaim the country for Christ".
Yet we miss the most important thing we are supposed to be doing… setting the
Now along comes someone within the Christian Right who
suggests that we lobby the government for something that is within the scope of
its authority, (protecting the environment). Specifically, global warming, and
what do the bulk of our religious leaders want? They want him to be quiet!
And the reason they give is just insulting. They admit that the Earth is
warming, but of course they say we can’t be sure why. "We
can’t even be sure", they claim, "If man is
contributing to the problem, or if man is even capable of having that kind of an
effect on the environment".
Does that sound like something we have heard before? Maybe
from the Republican Party/Big oil/Big business? Even they are beginning to
understand just how hollow that sounds. Do we as Christians, really want to be
seen as having our heads in the sand?
Two things I would like to point out here.
First... global warming is
caused by a build up of carbon dioxide and other green house gases in the
atmosphere. Man has been pumping this stuff into the air like it was candy since
the start of the "Industrial Age". To be fair, no one could have known a hundred
years ago where this would lead.
Second... does anyone know
how many thousands of years the American Indians lived in complete harmony with
the environment? Never taking more then they needed, always making full use of
the resource whatever it was. How long did it take for the White man to hunt the
Buffalo to brink of extinction?
I think it is safe to conclude that mans actions can, and
often does effect the environment.
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) in an open letter
to evangelicals, who are concerned about global warming, actually seems to
suggest that the world is ours to do with as we please. Stating that because God
gave us dominion over the Earth and the job of caring for the Garden there must
be no way we could
be responsible for climate change. The author of the letter quotes Wayne
"The stewardship God
gave to human beings over the earth–to cultivate and guard the garden
(Genesis 2:15) and to fill, subdue, and rule the whole earth."
(Genesis 1:28)–strongly suggests that caring for human needs
is compatible with caring for the earth. As theologian Wayne Grudem put it...
“It does not seem likely to me that God would set
up the world to work in such a way that human beings would eventually
destroy the earth by doing such ordinary and morally good and necessary
things as breathing, building a fire to cook or keep warm, burning fuel
to travel, or using energy for a refrigerator to preserve food.”
from page 2 of the letter)
Imagine you gave your son a toy for his birthday, something
you knew he would really enjoy. Now imagine you found it outside six months
later, dirty and broken. When you asked your son about it he just shrugged his
shoulders and the only answer for the poor way he took care of the toy was.
“You gave it to me,
it’s mine. What are you mad about?”
I am not a theologian, but it seems to me that the world of
Genesis chapter 1 and 2 is very different from the world we live in today. If we
were living in a world without sin, in the manner that God intended, then I
would agree with what Grudem is saying. We are not living in a world without
sin, nor does the world work the way God intended it to. What Was God talking
about in this verse...
Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry,
and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be
judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the
prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and
great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
I am not suggesting the use of oil is a sin. It is not a sin
to travel from one place to another, nor is it a sin to heat your home. The sin
is not in the use of the resource, the sin is in the greed that leads to its
We have known since at least the 70’s that an alternative
energy source was going to be needed. Humans are pretty smart. why don’t we have
a working alternative yet? Greed is the answer, greed and complacency. The 70’s
oil crunch could have been the push we needed to honestly look for that
alternative. It would have been, except the companies that owned the oil (Arab
and American) saw that alternative as a threat to their profits. In response,
they boosted production and spent money supporting politicians that would
support them. Oil prices came down and the rest of us went back to our lives.
As a result Big oil/Big business in this country has made a
lot of money. They have in turn pumped a lot of money into the GOP which over
the years have shrugged of warnings about global warming with the same tired
excuses the Christian Right is using now. The GOP by the way has been supporting
the "Christian Right" through lip service to its list of conservative values and
more recently with money for its "faith based incentives". It’s more than happy
to get its funding from Big oil/Big business and it’s voter base from the
Christian Right. It’s a nice neat little package that has worked well for the
Republicans and their contributors, but not so well for the voters.
What have the voters gotten in the deal?
We have had a Republican president for eighteen of the last
twenty-six years, with a large Republican majority for the last six years. Has
abortion gone away? Has the question of gay marriage gone away? How about
evolution, have they done anything real about that being taught as fact instead
of a theory? Is it likely that Biblical Creation will be taught along side
evolution anytime soon? (Not that I want to see public school teachers teaching
from the Bible. I can just imagine what kind of ideas they would be putting into
kids’ heads). The list of conservative issues they have promised to address is
long, while the list of achievements is very short.
The Christian population has all but abandoned its faith in
Christ, in order to continue supporting the party that it has transferred its
faith to. When our Christian leaders can continue to support a war, even after
all the evidence we’ve had that it was at best a mistake, is it really a
surprise when that same leadership continues to embrace the idea that global
warming is just so much "tree hugger" propaganda?
I have to ask what this is really about. Why do some of the
leaders of the Christian Right think that a concern about global warming is a
threat to the great moral issues of our time? Why do they consider Richard Cizik
too divisive and dangerous? Why does the ISA continue to tell us that human
global warming, if it even exists, is small and insignificant?
I think they are a little concerned that the voters in the
aforementioned relationship might get interested in something that does not
benefit the rest of the family. The GOP is more than happy to let Christians
have their pet issues, ("the great moral issues of our time"). Those are safe.
The politicians can talk about them, use them to get elected, throw faith based
money at the problem and even hide behind the separation of Church and State.
None of this interrupts the relationship. Republicans still get elected and
money still flows to Big oil/Big business.
Global warming, now that is a different story. The ISA is
right about one thing. Government mandated caps on emissions, or the Cap and
Trade options are going to affect the economy. In the short term, gas prices and
the price of other manufactured goods would go up. In the long term travel would
be reduced. The Auto industry would continue to take hits. Companies would lose
money, companies that contribute to the Republican Party. That is only if the
government does something about global warming.
If Christian voters did get active in environmental issues
and the Republican Party continued to ignore the problem, well those voters
might take their vote elsewhere. Don’t forget, the same people within the
Christian Right that want to do something about global warming also want to do
things like fed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. It would be a very
dark day indeed for the rich and powerful in this country if the voters they
relied on to keep them rich and powerful, actually started acting like the
Christians they claim to be.
To be clear, I don’t know what is in the heart of men like
Tony Perkins and James Dobson. I don’t know why they do the things they do. I
also don’t care. I have come to realize something. It is not about the leaders
of the Christian Right, it is about the voters of the Christian Right. They
can’t lead if no one follows. What type of Christian do you want people to see
when they look at you?
Do you want
them to see someone who blindly supports an administration that spends
billions of dollars every day in Iraq, while doing almost nothing in Darfur?
Do you want
them to hear you repeating old tired "party lines" that no one believes any
think a Christian should be more concerned with gay marriage than the hungry
and homeless that live right there in town?
That is what the world sees when it looks at Christians
today. They see a bunch of self absorbed people convinced in their own
righteousness. That is what the Christian Right has done for us. Are you going
to let these people continue to be your voice, or are you going to speak out and
be your own voice?
If we continue to let the leaders of the Christian Right
define Christianity for the rest of the world, we will have no one to blame but
ourselves when the rest of the world starts calling for our heads. Take your
voice back. By that I don’t mean get a sign and go march around on the street.
That is a waste of time. Live you’re live as a Christian. Live it right out in
the open. Open your Bible and study for yourself what Christ taught. Be prepared
though, because if you do that, you will find that Christ and the Christian
Right don’t have a whole lot in common. The rest of the world sees that, why
That’s really what this is about. It’s not about global
warming so much as it is about not letting the Tony Perkins and James Dobson’s
of the world make us look like fools again. I don’t know why they seem to want
our heads buried in the sand. Maybe they are afraid of losing their faith based
money. Maybe they really believe that we will be raptured before global warming
catches up with us. Maybe they really believe that God is ok with our raping the
planet he gave us to take care of. Either way, they have made a big mistake.
I don’t know what the solution is for global warming, but
let’s at least talk about it. This is a discussion that we as Christians should
be having. We should be looking at the data the scientific community has been
collecting. We should be listening to what they have to say, looking for a
consensus and asking our government why we are still not really doing anything.
As long as we are talking about that, do you think we could look at those other
problems the Christian Right has put on the back burner. You remember those?...
hunger, poverty and the salvation of lost souls?
In Christ, Eric D. Smith
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