Evangelical Update

A resource for lefties who want to understand conservative Christians.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Environment

Back in February, I read a transcript of a speech by Bill Moyers regarding the religious Right, and the environment. After reference to the "Left Behind" series (a bestselling series of books about the apocalypse), and a Grist article about the religious Right Moyers stated, "You will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is to be welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse."

This transcript caught my attention - big time. A common perception among liberals is that Evangelicals are anti-environment due to the Old Testament's "man shall have dominion over the Earth" type of statements. I'm not so sure that Evangelicals are anti-environment. If anything they seem to worry about environmentalism as a religion rather than a cause. This does not mean that they are anti-environment. I've just started to read Francis Shaeffer's "Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology." I'm not too far into it, so do not have much of a perspective. But assuming that Schaeffer's views are a somewhat timeless and authoritative view on Christianity, Christians take the middle ground between Earth-worship and Earth-destruction; humans have a duty to protect God's creation. In a recent post, Carmon of Buried Treasure Books, gets at the same message: Christians must separate themselves from nature-worshiping extremists, yet remember that in their dominion role they have a duty to protect and respect God's creation, even going so far as to question animal experimentation.

When I first posted on my annoyance with the Evangelical view of the environment at "I'm Not Crunchy", Rev Ed stated, "Christians who aren't concerned about the environment aren't paying too close attention to their Bible. " Shannon stated, "...taking care of the environment is an important issue because I'm a Christian. Being a good steward of what Christ has given to us is a big issue. Purposely harming the Earth God made for us just seems so wrong to me. I think it's our job to make sure that the resources we have on this planet are used wisely. Part of the problem that I think some Christians (okay, I'm talking about a few people I actually know here, not making a sweeping generalization - I promise) with environmentalism is that they feel like environmentalists put the environment first before people."

Evangelicals may have an equally incorrect perception on environmentalists or animal rights activists. I will not speak for others, but assume that at least some feel the same as me. While I do not agree with the "dominion over the earth" part of Christian philosophy, I certainly do not worship the earth. I feel like I am simply a part of earth, and no better or worse than a tree, dog, or stream - I may be a little outside of the mainstream on that last count. I also feel that the biosphere is the true living thing and that I am a daughter of earth. But you won't catch me dancing naked (or clothed) at a Gaia worship ceremony!!