Friday, February 10, 2006

Climate change meets the Golden Rule

Unlike Washington politicians who avoid admitting they could be wrong, an impressive group of 86 evangelical Christian leaders have joined the attack on global warming and climate change.

As Duane Litfin, president of the influential evangelical Wheaton College, said, "The evangelical community is quite capable of having some blind spots, and my take is this (global warming) has fallen into that category."

The move puts the Christian leaders at odds with President Bush, senators and congressmen who have sat idle while the earth's temperature has risen.

With a small war chest for television commercials, but with powerful influence on faith-driven politicians, evangelicals are preaching a simple sermon in their campaign launched this week: The planet Earth's peoples are obliged to care for God's creation as stewards of the earth.

"Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors," the group wrote in its manifesto for treating the environment with care.

Of course, some well-known evangelicals didn't sign on such as Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson and the Southern Baptist Association's Richard Land.

But those missing names were vastly overshadowed by the likes of Rick Warren, author of the blockbuster best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."

While admitting they're late to the fight, signatories to the global warning call to arms say "now we have seen and heard enough."

They'll buttonhole congressmen as well as state lawmakers and industry leaders who've yet to commit to fighting global warming, while publicly lauding companies that have "moved ahead of the pace of government action through innovative measures."

Mega church pastor the Rev. Joel Hunter says in a TV spot that "we can stop global warming, for our kids, our world and for the Lord."

Evangelicals have a lot of clout in Washington, D.C., these days. They organize, they vote and their influence extends to the very highest levels. With that kind of energy and organization, evangelicals may have a chance to be heard by leaders who have been deaf to the entreaties of scientists, blind to accumulating data, and indifferent to Earth's symptoms.

Now, people of God who're genuinely interested in life have challenged those who merely spout religious rhetoric. In their attempt to call attention to climate change, they truly show their respect for life on the planet.

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