A conservative United States senator warned against “far-left” environmentalists he claimed are trying to dupe the National Association of Evangelicals into adopting a policy statement on global warming.
The Washington Post on Thursday reported that despite earlier stories that consensus was building among conservative Christian groups toward speaking up for the environment, the 30 million-member NAE is not taking a position asking the Bush administration to support mandatory limits on carbon-dioxide emissions.
The story cited a letter to NAE president Ted Haggard from more than 20 powerful evangelical leaders–including Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission–who claim there is no consensus among Bible-believing Christians about the scope, cause or solution to global warming.
“The biblical witness should set the moral agenda of the Christian community, not partisan politicians,” said Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics. “Regrettably, the religious right marches to the beat of the political right.”
Earlier, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said on his “700 Club” TV program that Haggard was “naive” about the dangers of working with far-left environmentalists.
Robertson interviewed Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., whom he introduced as a “strong critic of the excesses of the environmentalist movement.”
Inhofe began the interview by describing “far-left environmental extremists” that he said the State Department considers terrorist groups.
Inhofe said when he read about two months ago that the NAE was “embracing some of these far-left environmentalists,” he called Haggard to talk him out of the idea. After they talked, he said, Haggard said, “Quite frankly, I don’t want to be part of a group like that.”
“I think it’s a stroke of genius for the environmentalists to come in and try to capture the Christians or the fundamental Christians,” Inhofe said. “We can’t let it happen.”
Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, criticized fundamentalist leaders for “taking their moral agenda from extremists like Sen. Inhofe.”
“They are selling their heritage for a pitiful bowl of pottage,” Parham said. “If these men would listen to the biblical witness–free from controlling ideological and commercial powers–they would read the Bible’s profoundly clear and compelling pro-environmental message.”
Richard Czik, the NAE’s vice president for governmental affairs, has lobbied for a year to have the organization formulate specific environmental policy recommendations for the government.
A year ago Haggard told the Washington Post that he and other evangelicals were recognizing that the environment is a moral issue and there are compelling theological reasons to be concerned with “creation care.”
In 2004 evangelicals came out with a paper titled “For the Health of the Nations: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility,” which included “responsibility to care for the earth.”
Even evangelicals applauding the apparent building consensus toward creation care acknowledged that many conservative Christians were wary of environmentalists, associating them with pantheists and radicals.
Inhofe said radical left views environmental concern as a kind of god.
“Look, Pat, I don’t have to tell you about reading the Scriptures, but one of mine that I’ve always enjoyed is Romans 1, 22 and 23: You quit worshipping God and start worshipping the creation–the creeping things, the four-legged beasts, the birds and all that,” he said.
“That’s their god. That’s what they worship. If you read Romans 1:25, it says, ‘and they gave up their God and started worshipping the creation.’ That’s what we are looking at now, that’s what’s going on. And we can’t let it happen.”
“We want to have a spiritual country,” he said, “and I would hate to think that we give in–and particularly organizations like the NAE–to a bunch of far-left-wing environmentalists.”
Inhofe said he doesn’t buy the research that greenhouse gases cause global warming.
“I gave a one-hour speech on this, on the Senate floor,” he said. “All of the science since 1999 has repudiated the idea that global warming caused by man-made gases–that’s methane and Co2–is causing a global warming, and the end of the world is coming, and the icecap is going to melt and all these things.
“But what they don’t realize–and what they won’t tell you–is that it was far warmer on the icecap in the 1930s and 1940s than it is today. We have trend lines that go up and down.
“And God is still up there and weather does change, but the same people who are yelling and screaming, and the authors of doom about global warming, were the ones in the late ’70s who were talking about a new ice age coming, and we are all going to die. They have to be hysterical about something.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.