Politics is known for making odd bedfellows, and a current campaign offers a good illustration: the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is encouraging support for new Environmental Protection Agency regulations calling for lower mercury levels that some members of Congress are trying to block — and they’re basing the campaign on a pro-life argument.
Environmentalists and anti-abortion forces are rarely found on the same side of the fence, but there does seem to be a growing movement, even among more conservative evangelicals, to recognize the dangers of environmental hazards.
The primary source of mercury is fallout from coal-fired power plants. The mercury gets into the water supply, working its way into the food chain and into the bloodstream of those who eat fish from the water. The EEN says about one in six babies in the U.S. are born with unhealthy levels of mercury in their blood, leading to brain damage and other developmental challenges.
So, if you really care about the unborn, the EEN campaign argues, you should care about whether children are born healthy, not just whether they’re born alive. The problem is, the same legislators who tend to be most avid “pro-life” advocates also tend to be friends of big business, including the power companies.
Mitch Hescox, president of the EEN, said “For the life of me, I can’t understand why some are trying to block the EPA from regulating mercury levels when they know the unborn will pay the price.”
The campaign, which includes radio and TV ads along with billboards featuring a fetus, targets senators and congressmen in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Arizona. Lobbyists have also delivered letters from pro-life evangelical pastors and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
So far, they’ve spent a quarter of a million dollars. Unfortunately, that’s pocket change for the business interests whose campaign contributions probably have considerably more influence than billboards and unborn babies.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.