Do All Evangelicals Hold to a Conservative Political Viewpoint on Economics?

Assessing The Cornwall Alliance’s new “Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming”

The Cornwall Alliance, a politically conservative and religiously ecumenical group, has recently released “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming.” Overall, the statement has some-much needed cautions as evangelicals engage in the debate about Climate Change. It’s supporting document, A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor has many very well-said and excellent points.

However, this is not THE Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, because it is clear that within our camp there is an on-going debate going on. Also, it is not THE Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming because the presuppositions that guide this declaration are (1) politically conservative in that it elevates free markets and private property rights, (2) fundamentalist in that it is suspicious toward the scientific community, and (3) mistaken in its narrow theological premise as to the meaning of the image Dei.

I’ll tackle each of these points in order, first with this post, and then later with some more posts.

First, it must be said that not all evangelicals are as politically conservative as those on the Cornwall Alliance’s Board of Advisors. Among the “Criteria for Stewardship Ethics” (p. 14 of A Renewed Call to Truth are these statements:

__"We therefore aspire to a world in which
  • liberty as a condition of moral action is preferred over government-initiated management of the environment as a means to common goals.
  • the relationships between stewardship and private property are fully appreciated, allowing people’s natural incentive to care for their own property to reduce the need for collective ownership and control of resources and enterprises, and in which collective action, when deemed necessary, takes place at the most local level possible.
  • widespread economic freedom—which is integral to private, market economies—makes sound ecological stewardship possible for ever greater numbers.
  • advancements in agriculture, industry, and commerce not only minimize pollution and transform most waste products into efficiently used resources, but also improve the material conditions of life for people everywhere.

These aspirations sound more like the party platform of the Republican Party than it does a consensus of evangelical Christians.

Things We Can Affirm in Cornwall Alliance's Declaration

Other posts of interest on "Global Warming:"
Evangelicals Divided Over Climate Change
Fundamentalist Suspicion Toward the Scientific Community Dies Hard
Imago Dei is More than "Dominion"
Cornwall Alliance's Denial of the Power of the FallCornwall Alliance’s “Christian Worldview”: Free Market Capitalism

1 comment:

Dean said...

Very good assessment of the Cornwall Alliance. Sadly, I have myself had a long and negative history with chief proponent of the Cornwall Alliance, Calvin Beisner, who has been far more an opponent of evangelical creation care endeavors than a proponent of responsible stewardship of the creation.

Especially regarding the issue of the free market I believe Cal and his comrades have totally missed what Katharine Lee Bates wrote in "America the Beautiful": "confirm thy soul in self-control; [confirm] thy liberty in law." The less self-control practiced by a citizenry, the more laws are necessary. More self-control, fewer laws.

Beisner continues to preach the virtually divine nature of laissez-faire libertarianism even in the face of our economic crisis brought about free-marketeers who did not practice self-control. And he continues to believe the huge majority of actors in the free market would make use of privatized land in an environmentally responsible manner.

Such naivete is startling.