Evangelical clergy are breaking with the Bush-Cheney view on global warming, said Al Gore in response to a question on Friday from EthicsDaily.com.

“Eighty-five conservative evangelical ministers joined as a group to publicly break with Bush and Cheney on the issue of the climate crisis and called on their congregations to start reducing global-warming pollution,” Gore said.

Among those leaders “were some of the biggest mega church pastors, who have been heretofore identified on the conservative side of political issues when they do come up,” Gore said. “There are a lot of others who have shifted.”

The former vice president urged clergy to engage the issue of global warming, especially from a moral perspective.

“I would urge them first of all to learn about it, to go to see the movie, to get the book, to go the Web site, climatecrisis.net, learn about it,” he said before quoting John 8:32: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

He encouraged clergy to “organize discussions about these facts and discuss the moral implications.”

“Maybe the receptivity to the moral imperative is a little higher in our part of the country, because even though people are conditioned to think about that as playing out on the conservative side of the political spectrum I don’t think that necessarily is the case,” he said.

Citing President Abraham Lincoln’s call for the nation in its darkest hour to “disenthrall” itself from its situation, Gore said the word “enthralled” meant “anything that imprisons our thinking with false assumptions and produces a quasi-hypnotic illusion that prevents us from realizing the truth of our circumstances.”

The truth is inconvenient, he said. “That’s where the [book] title comes from. It’s an inconvenient truth.”

Gore told EthicsDaily.com that global-warming polluters spend millions of dollars on propaganda telling the public, “Don’t worry everything is fine.”

He said that propaganda is contradicted by the “best evidence from the smartest, best-informed scientists” who warn about global warming.

The interview occurred on the same day media sources reported that a panel of the National Academy of Sciences said with “a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years.”

Gore has repeatedly stressed global warming is a moral issue, not a political one in newspaper and TV interviews. Yet reporters continue to see his global warming campaign as a precursor to a presidential campaign.

“I have the luxury of focusing on a single, passionate message about one challenge, albeit the most serious challenge, we have ever faced,” said Gore, a Southern Baptist.

“This issue is more difficult than a lot of issues,” he said. “Nothing in our prior history could prepare us for the fact that we are now in a radically new relationship between the human species and the planet upon which we live.”

At the beginning of the roundtable interview, Gore laughingly said, “Earth in the Balance [an earlier Gore environmental book] 14 years ago got to as high as number two. To me there is something about the difference between number two and number one. Kind of pushes some buttons. So I care about it more than I really should.”

Despite his self-deprecating humor, a reporter still asked Gore about his presidential ambition.

Gore sighed, “I’ve run for president twice and run for vice-president twice. I was in elective office for 24 years. I feel like the old saying, ‘Been there done that.'”

Then Gore shifted the discussion back to global warming. “I also have come to believe that whoever does run in 2008 should be, should confront, an electorate that is informed and aroused and demands of the candidates of both parties that they fight this climate crisis,” he said.

“In order to make the best use of my skills and experience, I want to try to change the political environment in which the debates about this occur.”

With his book An Inconvenient Truth rising to the number one spot this coming Sunday on the New York Times’ best-selling paperback list, the public appears to be listening to warning about global warming.

The long-time Democratic Party leader said, “I don’t feel like I have to apologize for not running for president a third time, when I’m trying to do the most effective job I know how to do in taking on what I genuinely believe is the most serious crisis civilization has every faced.”

Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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