Skip to comments.Baptist group fights Texas coal plants
Posted on 02/10/2007 8:59:23 PM PST by NormsRevenge
DALLAS - Texas' largest Baptist group is taking a rare step into environmental advocacy, working to block Gov. Rick Perry's plan to speed the approval process for 18 new coal-fired power plants.
The Christian Life Commission, the public policy arm of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, is mobilizing Baptists against the coal-fired plants and urging the convention's 2.3 million members to voice their opposition to state lawmakers.
"A lot of people felt like our industries, our policy leaders, are going to take care of these big issues like air quality, (and) it's not going to be something our local people are going to have to get up every day and worry about," said Suzii Paynter, director of the commission. "It can't be left to big interests to make these decisions in our behalf."
The Baptists stress that they are not jumping into full-blown activism, but even a small move toward environmentalism is significant.
"This is cutting edge stuff for Baptists even moderate Baptists," said Bruce T. Gourley, associate director of The Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.
The commission's action follows a resolution approved by the convention in November affirming "that we advocate for sound environmental policies in the public square."
Their stance is not necessarily that of all, or even most, Baptists. The Baptist General Convention of Texas is a moderate congregation in a state where Baptists are mainly divided between traditionalists, who are closely tied to the national denomination and the moderates, who are far more independent.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the nation with more than 16 million members, adopted a resolution last summer denouncing environmental activism and warning that it was "threatening to become a wedge issue to divide the evangelical community."
Paynter said Texas Baptists' involvement stems from concern over how dirty air is affecting the health of church members.
TXU Corp.'s coal proposal is on a fast track under an executive order Perry issued last year to expand the production of electricity and lower its cost. The company says the plants will meet growing demand for power, boost the economy of small towns and reduce toxic emissions by replacing older plants.
Environmental organizations, a coalition of Texas cities and counties and a group of influential Dallas business executives are among the critics who contend the company is driven by profits and is rushing to beat more stringent federal restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.
Many opponents of the coal plants will attend rallies at the state Capitol on Sunday and Monday. But Paynter said the Texas Baptists, while not opposing the demonstrations, will not be involved.
"I know environmentalists, they want to see a bunch of Christians marching on the Capitol," she said. "I don't really want to be seen as out there beating the drums to try to get people to the Capitol. We have a longer-term goal, which is about the stewardship of creation."
Gourley, of the Baptist center in Georgia, said Texas denominational leaders must be careful not to alienate Baptists in the pews. He said it is difficult to determine whether environmentalism will gain momentum among Baptists.
"I don't think it's an anomaly, but I really wonder if it's going to gain much traction any time soon," he said. "It would take a reorientation of how we Baptists understand our place in this world, and enlarging our whole definition of what salvation is."
Mary Darden, a Baptist deacon and president of Keep Waco Green, said the coal issue is rarely discussed at her church because members include power company employees. Sometimes people in her congregation, which is affiliated with the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, quietly offer support, but she said she wishes they would "come out of the closet and help."
"I do not believe God wants us to continue to pollute and cause the world to degenerate the way it is," Darden said.
Suzii Paynter, director of the Texas Christian Life Commission, poses in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
We have a cleaner enviroment and higher standards than most countries.
She really should do her whining in India and China.
Obviously clueless about coal-fired generation and emission standards.
Folks should only preach about that of which they have some rudimentary knowledge, at least.
So (certain) Baptists are okay if folks freeze. Got it. Now no whining when it happens.
BGCT is the liberal side of the Southern Baptists. The conservatives are the SBT - Southern Baptists of Texas.
unbelievable that the Baptist Church in Texas of all places could be taken over by leftists.
Suzii? With two i's? Does she draw little hearts over them?
In the 70s, I started up coal fired plants in Chile and worked on them in China. No emissions controls AT ALL. Not even electrostatic precipitators to capture the flyash. Our plants are very clean with particulate, SO2, NOx, water and solid waste disposal controls. If she wants to see dirty, go look at China. I doubt they are installing basic controls, even today.
The Southern Baptists split from the liberal Baptists due to the unbiblical stand the libs take. The libs are calling themselves mainstream Baptists. Each Southern Baptist church is independent, but cooperate in many ways.
Build nuclear power plants instead. I wonder how that would fare??
Indeed. It might do the TXU some PR good to be pro-active and maybe take a busload or two on a site visit to a TX plant, and maybe give a ppt presentation to the congregation on modern pollution controls. Otherwise they'll cluelessly continue to spout this enviro-whacko misinformation.
A dying liberal organization, to be exact.
Mary Darden, a Baptist deacon and president of Keep Waco Green
Now that is really something, "Keep Waco Green" and Baptist Deaconess in the same sentence..
I find it strange that the article used the male form of a Church office even though a female is holding it.
This group of Baptists in Texas like to characterize themselves as moderates when, in fact, they are liberals in theology and earth issues!
I respect liberals more than I do moderates, for liberals are at the very least honest enough to own up to what they really are.
This is just feckless propaganda and as shallow as the soundbites which are issued to media flacks to slavishly report them as though they are important and worthy of discussion. There is nothing religious about this evironmental radicalism. Its just socialism wearing a frock or a habit.
Yes, continue to be beholden to the godless communists like Chavez and the heathen Islamic oil producers. Keep putting money into the hands of those who fund the attacks on Christians around the World.
America has 500 years worth of coal in the ground.
We should use it as an interim source to help break the oil cartels hold. "Not in my neighborhood' is a lame excuse when the power IS used in your neighborhood.
If they want to protest the plants, they should take it all the way and demand that all 2.3 million of their members stop using electricity. That would more than remove the need for the extra plants.