Hooray! Evangelicals Finally Addressing Global Warming!
This past weekend, major news sources were reporting that the National Association of Evangelicals has scheduled meetings this Thursday and Friday in Washington, where more than 100 leaders will discuss issuing a statement on global warming.
Rich Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the NAE said, "I don't think God is going to ask us how he created the earth, but he will ask us what we did with what he created."
This concern for the environment is an outgrowth of the excellent milestone document the NAE passed in October 2004 on public engagement called For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, which includes the statement, "Because clean air, pure water and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation."
The New York Times reports, “Mr. Cizik said that Mr. [Bill] Ball [of the Evangelical Environmental Network] ‘dragged’ him to a conference on climate change in 2002 in Oxford, England. Among the speakers were evangelical scientists, including Sir John Houghton, a retired Oxford professor of atmospheric physics who was on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a committee that issued international reports. Sir John said in an interview that he had told the group that science and faith together provided proof that climate change should be a Christian concern. Mr. Cizik said he had a ‘conversion’ on climate change so profound in Oxford that he likened it to an ‘altar call,’ when nonbelievers accept Jesus as their savior.”
It’s too bad that the Religious Right within evangelicalism cannot see the importance of the issues concerning the environment. Tom Minnery, President of Government and Public Policy at Focus on the Family wasted no time with issuing a statement:
He said that Focus believes that “the protection of marriage, the sanctity of human life, and the related issue of judicial reform as paramount,” and that “any issue that seems to put plants and animals above humans is one that we cannot support.”
This is simply sloppy theology and warped reasoning. Is not the protection of the environment (and plants and animals) the mandate given to humanity in Genesis when we were formed in the “Image of God?” And does not the destruction of the environment endanger the very human lives that Minnery wants to protect? The Sanctity of Life is, of course, primarily the sanctity of human life, but not just the sanctity of human life (all of God’s creatures should be seen as sacred). And human life is endangered when the world’s environment in which these humans live is endangered.
Also listen to this past weekend's NPR "Weekend Edition" interview of NAE's Rich Cizik.