Thursday, March 10, 2005

Strange Bedfellows?

Today's New York Times features a brief, but good, article about the growing environmental concerns of some Christian evangelicals. In October of 2004, the National Association of Evangelicals adopted a platform entitled, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility." The platform focused on the Christian obligation "to protect God's creation," ensuring future "clean air, pure water and adequate resources," all of which are "crucial to public health and civic order."

This news makes my heart sing! If environmentalists and evangelical Christians (the latter group having influence in many local communities where "greens" couldn't hope to gain an audience) can minimize their differences for the greater good, I'm all for it.

There are some concerns that merit attention, of course. Rich Cizik, vice-president of the NAE, explains that while the NAE is "not adverse to government-mandated prohibitions on behavioral sin such as abortion," they are uncomfortable with the environmentalists' support for government regulation. Cizik must acknowledge the implicit contradiction in such a perspective.

There will be some head-butting, but I would rather have the green evangelicals pushing against the tide of fundamentalists ushering in The Rapture, than have to deal with them myself. Secular environmentalists don't have to speak the language, but they must be willing to sit down at a table and draw up plans with groups like the NAE. Even if we all differ on some critical issues, our shared commitment to protecting the ecosystems that sustain us means enough to allow for a firm handshake and some hard work. Grudgingly, we can work alongside one another.

Note: I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay and, despite their claims (made in the NY Times article linked above) that "faith made them environmentalists," I can tell you that many watermen faced cruel, economic realities when the populations of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) crashed. It was a combination of hard-times and faith, not just scripture, that made these hard-working men think about cause-and-effect.

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