One of the very first posts I made on a blog over a year ago was “Praise the Lord, not Petroleum”. It discussed the very public and high profile actions a significant number of Evangelical Christian organizations were taking to fight global warming. Their underlying argument is simple: if the Earth, and all living things are god’s creation, we should not destroy it and them with global warming.
This position was part of the tipping point in consciousness around global warming that occurred last year. To have some of the most morally conservative groups in the country take an aggressive stand on global warming helped to change the political dialogue on the subject. In the short recent history of the environmental movement, most of the ‘green’ advocates have come from the liberal left. To have a new, committed, and very influential force join in from the right was a new, profound dynamic in the global warming discussion, particularly in the political realm.
One of the foremost evangelical leaders advocating full participation in the effort to slow global warming is Rev. Richard Cizik, the VP for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. Having had a ‘profound conversion’ in 2002 listening to scientists during a retreat, Cizik has been able to generate significant support from his constituency to lobby and work on efforts to slow, and reverse, global warming.
Last week, leaders of several conservative groups sent the National Association of Evangelicals a letter urging the organization to stop Cizik from speaking out on global warming. The thrust of the letter was that they are not convinced that global warming is human-induced or that human intervention can prevent it. [Well, they don’t hold science in high regard]. However the key point of the letter was the firmly expressed opinion that the focus on global warming was diverting the evangelical movement away from issues like abortion and homosexuality and the teaching of sexual abstinence to children, which they called “the great moral issues of our times”.
Well, if we, and by we I mean humanity, don’t go to work to do whatever we can to greatly lessen our contributions to global warming, then our survival will become the dominant moral issue in the decades ahead. When confronted by a real question of survival, all other moral issues fall away. Let’s think about this: homosexuality or survival of the human and other species, which is a greater threat?
What I do find very intriguing about this is that it is an example of what is going on in the US right now. The tipping point that has occurred in the US about global warming in the last twelve months has given all of us a common issue. The new dominant moral issue is becoming global warming. Do we have the right to kill off plant and animal species in the years ahead and put the lives of our grandchildren in jeopardy because we can’t better manage the waste products of our way of life? Of course we don’t. Most of the moral issues of the past few years have seemed to be divisive issues. Abortion, gay rights, Iraq, health insurance, immigration all have, of course with the dishonest leadership of the divide and conquer Bush administration, driven wedges into our society, dividing the country into ‘us and them’. Us and them issues have been the dominant issues. Now we have an issue that, due to the fact that it affects every single one of us, is an issue that is starting to unite us to common action.
I strongly believe that this is the beginning of something that will gain momentum during the next ten years. Global warming and its consequences such as species death, violent weather, hotter temperatures, droughts, fires, and ocean dead zones will force us to realize that unless we all work together to change this awful trend, our children and grandchildren face a much more dangerous and questionable future. The whole needs to solve this problem of the whole. We all need to be part of the solution. Working together we have a chance, not working together we are at greater risk.
The evangelical right can still fight homosexuality, but they are now fighting global warming. The evangelical right can now work with the radical environmentalists on the same problem with the same general viewpoint. This trend is only going to increase during the coming months and years as all of us realize that we only have one planet that we all live on, and increasingly we will all feel responsible. We can still have our parochial, moral and local issues, but we now have an issue that we all can work on together. As Marshall McLuhan said “ There are not passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew”.
It is this coming reality, that we will all realize that survival is tied to our beginning to act as global citizens, and collectively solve our problems, that will be part of the foundation of the next stage of human history, an evolution shift.