group of conservative religious leaders and politicians on Thursday unveiled a new campaign aimed at getting 1 million supporters behind a so-called “biblical” view of the environment that downplays concerns about human-induced global warming.The “We Get It” campaign is seeking signatures through a Web site to a short declaration questioning what a press release termed “knee-jerk reactions” to climate change.
“Our stewardship of creation must be based on Biblical principles and factual evidence,” the declaration says. “We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming.”
Such statements, the group claims, cause more harm than good by encouraging economic policies that wind up hurting the poor.
“With billions suffering in poverty, environmental policies must not further oppress the world’s poor by denying them basic needs,” the declaration continues. “Instead, we must help people fulfill their God-given potential as producers and stewards.”
Sponsors of the effort include the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Wallbuilders, the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and Acton Institute.
Personal endorsements include Joel Belz, founding editor of WORLD Magazine; singer Pat Boone; Congressman Paul Broun; Senator Tom Coburn; James Dobson and Senator James Inhofe.
“These Christian Right leaders neither ‘get it’ about climate change nor have a significant record of working to end global poverty,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics. “To oppose initiatives to address global warming on the grounds of their concern about global poverty is a disingenuous smokescreen. Moreover, their track record of authentic concern about the environment is questionable.”
Parham said: “What is puzzling is why they refuse to hear the near-scientific consensus about climate change and to heed the biblical witness’ call to care for the earth in real actions, rather than shallow words. They appear to be more committed to corporate greed that meeting human need–needs which already result from climate change.”
Endorsements of the new statement by Southern Baptists include Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Pastor Jay Dennis, former president of the Florida Baptist Convention; Russell Moore, a vice president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Richard Land, president of the ERLC.
“A recent Barna poll showed that less than one-third of evangelicals, far fewer than non-evangelicals, believe that global warming is a major problem,” Land said in a statement. “You wouldn’t know that from the news headlines. It’s time to set the record straight, and the ‘We Get It’ campaign is just what’s needed. It has a high view of man, a Biblical view of stewardship, and a responsible regard for the needs of the poor.”
Two months ago a group of prominent Southern Baptists issued an earlier statement saying humans must take responsibility for their contribution to global warming.
The new statement issues a caveat.
“We must recognize that a growing number of leading experts are increasingly questioning the supposed ‘consensus’ about man-made global warming, and that evidence of natural, cyclical climate change continues to mount,” the Web site declares.
The statement cautions against quick-fix solutions that could have “devastating impacts” like skyrocketing costs for food, energy and other essential needs that disproportionately harm the poor.
A prime example, the group says, is the recent increase of grain prices linked to diverting food crops to produce ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels.
That view is contrary to a letter to U.S. senators drafted last month by the Baptist Center for Ethics and signed by more than 140 Baptist leaders urging lawmakers to pass the “strongest possible” bill on climate change.
That letter claimed that the effects of global warming disproportionately harm the poor.
“We have a moral duty to speak up for the vulnerable in our society,” the BCE letter said. “Those who have contributed least to the problem of climate change stand to suffer the most. Those who are poor will likely bear the greatest burden economically from any large-scale program to reduce global warming pollution, if the legislation is not constructed correctly.
“We also have a moral duty to speak up for the global poor,” it continued. “Global warming’s impact already falls and will continue to fall most heavily on the marginalized in developing countries. To rectify this injustice, legislation must include mechanisms that provide adaptation assistance to vulnerable communities.”
The BCE letter applauded Senators John Warner, R-Va., and Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn., for introducing bi-partisan legislation and the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works “for beginning to address this important moral issue.”
“We recognize that significant reductions in global warming emissions require that we change our lifestyles and our energy consumption,” the BCE letter maintained. “Legislation must encourage energy conservation throughout our economy.”
“We urge the Senate to pass the strongest possible climate legislation that recognizes the needs and burdens of low-income and working families in the United States and around the world.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.