Skip to comments.Evangelicals battle over agenda, environment
Posted on 03/12/2007 6:32:03 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
A struggle for control of the evangelical agenda intensified this week, with some leaders declaring that the focus has strayed too far from their signature battles against abortion and gay rights.
Those issues defined the evangelical movement for more than two decades - and cemented ties with the Republican Party. But in a caustic letter, leaders of the religious right warned that these "great moral issues of our time" were being displaced by a "divisive and dangerous" alignment with the left on global warming.
A new generation of pastors has expanded the definition of moral issues to include not only global warming, but an array of causes. Quoting Scripture and invoking Jesus, they're calling for citizenship for illegal immigrants, universal healthcare and caps on carbon emissions.
The best-known champion of such causes, the Rev. Jim Wallis, this week challenged conservative crusader James C. Dobson, the chairman of Focus on the Family, to a debate on evangelical priorities.
"Are the only really 'great moral issues' those concerning abortion, gay marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence?" Wallis asked in his challenge. "How about the reality of 3 billion of God's children living on less than $2 per day? ... What about pandemics like HIV/AIDS ... [and] disastrous wars like Iraq?"
A Focus on the Family vice president, Tom Minnery, said he would be happy to take up that debate. Dobson himself, Minnery said, is busy writing a book on child rearing.
"Without question," Minnery said, "issues like the right to life for an unborn child concern evangelicals far more broadly."
The public dispute began with the release of a letter signed by several men who helped transform the religious right into a political force, including Dobson, Don Wildmon of the American Family Assn. and Paul Weyrich of American Values.
The signatories - most of them activists, not theologians - expressed dismay that an evangelical emphasis on global warming was "contributing to growing confusion about the very term 'evangelical.' "
In religious terms, an evangelical is a Christian who has been born again, seeks a personal relationship with Christ, and considers the Bible the word of God, to be faithfully obeyed.
But Dobson and his fellow letter-writers suggested that evangelical should also signify "conservative views on politics, economics and biblical morality."
The letter took particular aim at the Rev. Richard Cizik, a prominent evangelical lobbyist who has promoted environmental protection as a moral imperative. Citing the creation story in the Book of Genesis, he has called the fight against global warming a directive "straight from the word of God ... no doubt about it."
The letter accused Cizik of "dividing and demoralizing" Christians by pushing this agenda and called on his employer, the National Assn. of Evangelicals, to silence him or to demand his resignation.
"This is, in some ways, a defining moment," said Randall Balmer, a professor of religion at Columbia University in New York. "It's the old guard trying to hold on."
The renewed debate on moral priorities came as the National Assn. of Evangelicals - which represents 45,000 churches and 30 million Christians - gathered for a board meeting Friday in Eden Prairie, Minn.
The board declined to censure or silence Cizik. Moreover, it appeared to embrace a broad view of the evangelical agenda, endorsing a sweeping human rights declaration.
The board also reaffirmed its support for a 2004 Call to Civic Responsibility that urged evangelical engagement on seven key issues, including religious freedom, the sanctity of life, justice for the poor, and environmental protection.
Those advocating a broader agenda insist that they're not trying to downplay - much less back away from - traditional evangelical positions on abortion and sexual morality.
White evangelicals are more united against abortion than any other religious group, including Catholics, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A 2005 poll found 15% in support of a total ban on abortion and 53% in favor of only narrow exceptions. By contrast, global warming is deemed a "very serious" problem by less than 30% of white evangelicals, according to a 2006 Pew Forum poll. Less than 40% accept the scientific consensus that human activity, such as burning coal for energy, is responsible for the Earth's rising temperatures.
"It's a mistake to think that we're all becoming liberal Democrats. That's not true," Wallis said.
Like all the left-wing DemocRATS that make up the base of the 'RAT party, the 60's radical, Jim Wallis, is a follower of the ideas of Herbert Marcuse -- He's a Marcusian Marxist
Marcusian Marxists co-opted the term "liberal" and re-defined it to suit themselves. Herbert Marcuse's Erotic Marxism
Friedrich Hayek refused to allow anyone to call him a "conservative", even though what he stood for is called, "conservativism" today.
In reality, today's conservatives are yesterday's "classic liberals", and todays liberals are yesterday's Marxists.
"....In a philosophical analysis of the counter culture, Ronald Nash, Head of Philosophy and Religion at Western Kentucky, selects two prominent spokesmen, Marcuse and Reich, and subjects them to severe criticism based on his thesis that:
Concerning Marcuse, "his thesis is self-defeating in the sense that no one, including himself, could have obtained knowledge of the thesis. And even granting that Marcuse's books could be the result of a miracle, no one else, according to this theory, could have under stood him."
Of Reich, Nash says, "Surely there are good grounds for concluding that The Greening of America is a confused melange of nonsense."
Click my screen name for more on: "The Religious Left - Who They Are and What They Believe" bttt
Blame-America-first, Marxist (central-planner/collectivists) like Jim Wallis, don't believe in America's founding principles / individual liberties which are derived from holding a biblical worldview. Since they will reject most environmental policies that adhere to the principles below, classic liberals (today's "conservatives") must reject their unAmerican, anti-capitalist ideas.
Individuals, Liberty and the Environment
The American Conservation Ethic
The American Conservation Ethic is grounded in experience, science, wisdom and the enduring values of a free people. It affirms that people are the most important natural resource and that we must be good stewards of the world around us for this and future generations. It is founded upon a deep respect for the wonder, beauty and complexity of creation and is dedicated to the wise use of nature's bounty. It reflects every American's aspiration to make our environment cleaner, healthier and safer for our future, and it draws its strength from the most powerful force for improving our environment free people.
The American Conservation Ethic works because, like the American people, it is practical. It applies the tried and true principles of individual rights and responsibilities to the conservation of our natural resources. Property rights create incentives that both reward good stewardship and empower individuals to protect their property from the harmful acts of others. The guarantee that we shall reap the fruits of our labor inspires the investment of time, money and effort necessary to expand upon centuries of accumulated arts and sciences. As we learn more, we are better able to be good stewards of natural resources.
The American Conservation Ethic relies upon science as a tool to guide public policy. Science is an invaluable tool for rationally weighing risks to human health and measuring other environmental impacts. Foremost among our measures of environmental quality are human health and well-being. Science also provides a means of assessing the costs and benefits of actions designed to reduce, control and remediate pollution or other environmental impacts. Central to the American Conservation Ethic is the understanding that scientific development, technological innovation and economic growth are essential for a cleaner, healthier and safer environment. As we increase our knowledge, we improve our productivity, efficiency and potential to innovate and these achievements conserve energy, raw materials and other valuable resources. As we learn more about the natural world we discover how to get more than ever before from the resources we use. Progress provides the know-how, time and financial resources needed to fulfill our aspirations to improve the health, beauty and productivity of America.
The American Conservation Ethic is established on the fact that renewable natural resources are not fragile and static but resilient and dynamic. Such resources are continually regenerated through growth, reproduction or other naturally occurring processes which cleanse, cycle or otherwise create resources anew. Because these resources are continually renewed they can be used in a wise and responsible manner without the fear that they will be lost forever. Through progress we come to better understand renewable natural resources and the relationships among them. The knowledge gained improves our ability to wisely use and conserve these treasures for the benefit of current and future generations.
The American Conservation Ethic promotes workable means to reach our environmental goals, rather than depending on an inefficient centralized environmental bureaucracy. By relying on the first-hand knowledge and practical experience of local people and accounting for widely varying conditions, a site and situation specific approach provides practical solutions to the environmental challenges we face. The greater the degree to which solutions to environmental problems reflect the knowledge, needs and desires of those individuals most affected, the more successful they will be.
America has unsurpassed natural wealth. Our abundant mountains, plains, forests and coasts, our lakes, rivers and streams, our wildlife and fish are unique in all of the world. They have provided for and have been cherished by millions of Americans for generation after generation. Our people living, growing and creating within our rich culture of liberty are our greatest resource. Americans today clearly aspire to improve upon our tradition of wisely using and conserving the world around us for generations to come. The American Conservation Ethic is the way to fulfill these aspirations.
The American Conservation Ethic recognizes that free people work to improve the environment. It relies upon empowering individuals to use, enjoy and conserve our environment. It inspires and challenges individual Americans to improve their surroundings and lives, and thereby the world we share. Cumulatively, these are the most effective and dependable means to ensure a cleaner, healthier and safer environment, conserve America's unique resources and protect that which we all treasure most people and liberty.
Principles of the American Conservation Ethic
I. People are the most important resource.
All environmental policy should be based on the idea that people are the most important resource. The inherent value of each individual is greater than the inherent value of any other resource. Accordingly, the foremost measure of quality of our environment is human health, safety and well-being. A policy cannot be good for the environment if it is bad for people. The best judge of what is or is not desirable is the affected individual.
Human intellect and accumulated knowledge are the only means by which the environment can be willfully improved or modified. Environmental policies should inspire people to be good stewards. Within the framework of equity and liability individuals carry out deeds that create incremental benefits in the quality or quantity of a resource or improve some aspect of the environment. Cumulatively these deeds result in progress and provide direct and indirect environmental benefits to society.
II. Renewable natural resources are resilient and dynamic and respond positively to wise management.
Renewable natural resources trees, plants, soil, air, water, fish and wildlife and collections thereof wetlands, deserts, forests and prairies are the resources we are dependent upon for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and to meet innumerable other human needs. Human life depends upon their use and conservation. Such resources are continually regenerated through growth, reproduction or other naturally occurring processes which cleanse, cycle or otherwise create them anew. While all living organisms and activities produce byproducts, nature has a profound ability to carry, recycle, recover and cleanse. These characteristics make it possible for us to wisely use renewable resources now while ensuring they are conserved for future generations. As Teddy Roosevelt, a founding father of conservation, recognized: "A Nation treats its resources well if it turns them over to the next generation improved and not impaired in value."
III. The most promising new opportunities for environmental improvements lie in extending the protection of private property and unleashing the creative powers of the free market.
Ownership inspires stewardship. Private property stewards have the incentive to enhance their resources and the incentive to protect them. Polluting another's property is to trespass or to cause injury. Polluters, not those most vulnerable in the political process, should pay for damages done to others. Good stewardship is the wise use or conservation of nature's bounty, based on our needs. With some exception, where property rights are absent, we must seek to extend them. If this proves elusive, we must seek to bring the forces of the market to bear to the greatest extent possible. There is a direct and positive relationship between modern market economies and a clean, healthy and safe environment. There is also a direct and positive relationship between the complexity of a situation and the need for freedom. Markets reward efficiency, which is environmentally good, while minimizing the harm done by unwise actions. In the market, successes are spread by example, and since costs are not subsidized but are borne privately, unwise actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter duration. As a result, such actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter duration. We must work to decouple conservation policies from regulation or government ownership. In aggregate, markets not mandates, most accurately reflect what people value and therefore choose for their environment.
IV. Our efforts to reduce, control and remediate pollution should achieve real environmental benefits.
The term pollution is applied to a vast array of substances and conditions that vary greatly in their effect on man. It is used to describe fatal threats to human health, as well as to describe physically harmless conditions that fall short of someone's aesthetic ideal. Pollutants occur naturally or can be a by-product of technology. Their origin does not determine their degree of threat. Most carcinogens, for example, occur naturally but do not engender popular fear to the same degree that man-made carcinogens do. Microbiological pollutants, bacteria and viruses, though natural, are by far the most injurious form of pollution. Technology and its byproducts must be respected but not feared. Science is an invaluable tool for rationally weighing risks to human health or assessing and measuring other environmental impacts. Health and well-being are our primary environmental measures. Science also provides a means of considering the costs and benefits of actions designed to reduce, control and remediate pollution or other environmental impacts so that we may have a cleaner, healthier and safer environment.
V. The Learning Curve is Green.
As we accumulate additional knowledge we learn how to get more output from less input. The more scientific, technical and artistic knowledge we have, the more efficient we are in meeting our needs. As we gain knowledge, we are able to conserve by substituting information for other resources. We get more miles per gallon, more board-feet per acre of timber, a higher agricultural yield per cultivated acre, more GNP per unit of energy. Technological advancement confers environmental benefits. Progress made it possible for the American farmer of today to feed and clothe a population more than two and a half times the size of the one we had in 1910 and triple exports over the same time frame while lowering the total acreage in production from 325 million to 297 million acres. That is 28 million acres less, an area larger than the state of Louisiana that is now available for other uses such as wildlife habitat. American agriculture has demonstrated that as an unintended consequence of seeking efficiencies, there are environmental benefits. As Warren Brookes used to put it simply , "The learning curve is green." This phenomenon has a tremendous positive effect on our environment and progress along the learning curve is best advanced by the relentless competition in the market to find the best or wisest use of a resource.
VI. Management of natural resources should be conducted on a site and situation specific basis.
Resource management should allow for variation of conditions from location to location and time to time. A site and situation specific approach takes advantage of the fact that those closest to a resource are best able to manage it. Such practices allow us to set priorities and break problems down into manageable units. Natural resource managers, on site and familiar with the situation, whether tending to the backyard garden or the back forty pasture, are best able to determine what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They are able to adapt management strategies to account for feedback and changes. A site and situation specific management scheme fits the particulars as no government mandate or standard can. Additionally, a site and situation specific approach is more consistent with policies carried out at lesser political levels. The closer the management of natural resources is to the affected parties, the more likely it is to reflect their needs and desires. The more centralized management is, the more likely it is to be arbitrary, ineffectual or even counterproductive. A site and situation specific approach avoids the institutional power and ideological concerns that dominate politicized central planning.
VII. Science should be employed as a tool to guide public policy.
Societal decisions rely upon science but ultimately are the product of ethics, beliefs, consensus and many other processes outside the domain of science. Understanding science for what it is and is not is central to developing intelligent environmental polices. Science is the product of the scientific method, the process of asking questions and finding answers in an objective manner. It is a powerful tool for understanding our environment and measuring the consequences of various courses of action. Through science we can assess risks, as well as weigh costs against benefits. While science cannot be substituted for public policy, public policy on scientific subjects should reflect scientific knowledge. A law is a determination to force compliance with a code of conduct. Laws go beyond that which can be established with scientific certainty. Laws are based upon normative values and beliefs and are a commitment to use force. Commitments to use the force of law should be made with great caution and demand a high degree of scientific certainty. To do otherwise is likely to result in environmental laws based upon scientific opinions rather than scientific facts. Such laws are likely to be wasteful, disruptive or even counterproductive, as scientific opinions change profoundly and often at a faster pace than public policy. The notion behind the Hippocratic oath first do no harm should govern the enactment of public policy.
VIII. Environmental policies which emanate from liberty are the most successful.
Our chosen environment is liberty, and liberty is the central organizing principle of America. To be consistent with our most cherished principle, our environmental policies must be consistent with liberty. Restricting liberty not only denies Americans their chosen environment, but also constrains environmental progress.
Liberty has powerful environmental benefits. Freedom unleashes forces most needed to make our environment cleaner, healthier and safer for the future. It fosters scientific inquiry, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, rapid information exchange, accuracy and flexibility.
Free people work to improve the environment, and liberty is the energy behind environmental progress. bttt
Preachers just need to stay the heck out of politics, or at least leave it at home and not take it to church with them.