Former President Jimmy Carter declared unanimous support for Al Gore’s creation-care mandate in front a supportive audience of 2,500 Baptists at a luncheon gathering Jan. 31 in Atlanta, but not all response was positive outside the banquet hall.
“Perhaps the only thing worse than Al Gore’s tedious 90-minute slide presentation on global warming,” the Wall Street Journal described the former vice president’s address at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration, “is the same presentation interspersed with slides quoting from Scripture.”
The Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative group that seeks to counter public influence of the mainline Protestant umbrella group the National Council of Churches, criticized Gore’s use of Bible verses to support what a writer called “the most alarmist Global Warming theories.”
“When pro-life Christians cite the Bible this way, they are derided as fundamentalist whackos,” wrote Mark Tooley, director of the IRD’s United Methodist committee. “When Al Gore screams that God is going to drown the East Coast if we don’t change our global warming policies, he is called a prophet–specifically, a ‘Baptist Prophet. That’s how Robert Parham, executive director of the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics, feted Gore during his introduction.””We have with us today a Baptist prophet who is so unacceptable that the Baptist establishment in his hometown of Nashville neither acknowledged his winning the Nobel Peace Prize, nor honored with coverage his noted Nobel lecture,” Parham said in his introduction of Gore.
A news story in Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, devoted nearly as much attention to Parham’s introduction as to Gore’s speech.
“Parham apparently was referencing the Southern Baptist Convention,” the BP story said. “However, as early as 2004, Gore and his wife Tipper denounced their SBC ties and used the description ‘ecumenical’ to define their religious affiliation.”
“Parham’s jab also could have pointed to a Southern Baptist resolution passed in 2007 ‘to proceed cautiously in the human-induced global warming debate in light of conflicting scientific research,'” the report continued. “The resolution included a call for ‘caring stewardship and dominion over the earth and environment,’ and cited scientific and economic factors typically not referenced in claims by global warming activists like Gore.”
Parham presented Gore with a plaque naming him EthicDaily.com’s 2007 “Baptist of the Year” and a symbolic green-covered Bible. “The Bible is God’s green book,” Parham explained. “The green Bible gives us the responsibility to guard the garden. The green Bible calls us to love our neighbors. And my friends the only way we can love our neighbors across time is to leave them a decent place to live.” Parham then challenged the audience to make Gore “feel accepted in a community that honors the prophets.”
That description brought derision from global-warming skeptics and conservatives opposed to Gore’s Democratic Party values.
“It’s been quite a run for Al Gore,” Steve Haruch wrote on a Nashville Scene blog. “Briefly:
“1969: Army journalist
“1979: First person to appear on C-SPAN
“1984: U.S. Senator
“1993: Vice President
“2000: Popular vote winner/Supreme Court loser
“2007: Oscar winner
“That last one caught us by surprise, too,” he deadpanned.
A comment on BaptistBoard.com labeled Gore’s “prophet” designation “the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time.”
“Gore claims the moniker ‘Baptist’ and on rare occasion ‘Southern Baptist’ when it is convenient for him, but seldom does he even espouse clear and accurate biblical truth,” one blogger observed. “He supports the murder of the unborn, same-sex marriage, among other platforms of the liberal agenda, and sadly, he still can’t get over losing to George W. Bush in the presidential race.”
Fundamental Baptist Information Service described Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” as a “misguided and error-filled movie.”
“Al Gore has used a speech to hundreds attending Jimmy Carter’s liberal Baptist meeting in Atlanta to sell his global warming campaign,” reported One News Now, a news site affiliated with the American Family Association. “Despite the apparent success Gore enjoyed at the meeting, many people question the former vice president’s claims about global warming. They argue the earth is simply going through another cycle of changes, as it has since the beginning of time.”
The Tennessean carried an opinion piece by Paul Proctor, a Tennessee writer whose “Biblically Speaking” column appears at the conservative Web site NewsWithViews.com, challenging Carter for equating literal and legalistic interpretations of the Bible as the source of controversy within Baptist life.
“I can’t help but wonder why Brother Jimmy didn’t mention any threat to the unity being caused by a liberal interpretation of Scripture,” Proctor said. “Perhaps he thought Southern Baptists would be so enamored of his invitation that they wouldn’t notice the bias and hypocrisy drooling down his chin.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
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Managing editor at EthicsDaily.com from 2003-2009, Allen wrote more than 1,500 news stories during his tenure.