Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Evangelicals Oppose President on Environmental Bill

From time-to-time you hear about evangelical groups promoting environmentalism. The most well-known effort was the too-humorous-to-be-effective PR stunt known as What Would Jesus Drive?. Now, a group of 85 evangelical leaders have signed a petition supporting legislation that would lower carbon dioxide emissions. The President opposes the legislation.

The group has some true-blue (true-red?) evangelicals including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. But none of President Bush's most ardent evangelical supporters signed on--proving once again that a certain faction of evangelicals care more about political power than what is right or wrong.

Nevertheless, the Bible admittedly says very little about environmentalism. Not a surprise given that biblical times were rather devoid of factories, cars and strip mining. But, according to Genesis, God did give us dominion over the Earth and it is hard to believe he wanted us to trash His creation.

Many Christians and Jews have interpreted God's gift of dominion as requiring us to be good stewards of His Earth. What that means is we should preserve and conserve the environment . That doesn't mean elevating the environment to a position above our own. But it does mean caring for the Earth and making sure she continues to bear both beauty and fruit.

I firmly believe we can practice environmentalism without unduly harming our industries or our way of life. But too many politicians, President Bush included, keep claiming that industry should regulate itself and that the Government does not need to step in. Problem is, the business impulse is to use as many resources as possible before the competition gets to them. Conservation is just not a very profitable business model.

So government intervention becomes necessary to protect the environment. I am not overly familiar with the specific regulations in the legislation supported by this evangelical group. But I do support reducing carbon dioxide emissions and I don't believe the businesses involved will spontaneously reduce emissions without some serious government prodding.

I am fundamentally pro-business and pro free-markets. But too often the Republican party takes those convictions too far and forgets that government can play a positive role. I am glad to see such a large number of evangelical leaders acknowledging that our government should be playing a greater role in protecting the Earth.


Anonymous Robert Bell said...

The key is the interpretation of the word "dominion". Some have now recast it as "stewardship". There is, I'm told, a fairly heated debate within some denominations.

9:28 AM  

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