The Debate Over Climate, Evangelical-Style
Kevin Salwen on Environment
There's some interesting movement going on in the evangelical Christian community: Many are now stepping up to speak out on the environment. This incredibly powerful group (2004 election, anyone?) has been of two camps on environmental activism before: silent and opposed. Now, as NPR reports this morning, evangelical leaders are taking on sustainability as the Lord's work. 'God's gift of our earth is something we need to be effective stewards of,' said Leah Anderson, who leads a 5,000-member church in Minnesota.
He was one of 86 evangelicals to sign an Evangelical Call to Action that was sent to President Bush, urging action on global warming. This isn't a shabby group, including such heavyweights as Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren and Christianity Today editor David Neff.
It's worth noting that James Dobson, arguably the most influential evangelical Christian on the planet, didn't sign the Call to Action, nor did a number of other big-name players. Their contention, according to a letter countering the Call, is that the Bible makes clear that God expects human beings to take care of the earth. But 'human beings come first in God's created order,' says Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. 'And that primacy must be given to human beings and for human betterment. If that means that other parts of nature take a back seat, well, then they take a back seat.'
While it's painful to hear that kind of silliness come from learned and influential people, the Call gives hope. I know who I'm rooting for in this debate.