October 30, 2005

Evangelicals and the environment

A Denver Post feature on Ted Haggard, pastor of Colorado Springs' huge New Life Church, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and phone pal of President Bush, quotes him as saying that evangelical Christians should not make the same mistake on enviromental issues that they made on civil rights issues 40 years ago:

Haggard draws a parallel between the choice evangelicals face over the environment and a lost opportunity in the 1960s.

"We blew it with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Haggard said. "My generation's opportunity to blow it is to say we shouldn't deal with the environment because that's a liberal issue. Well, civil liberties was a liberal issue, and we were on the wrong side of that."

Haggard has urged the NAE towards environmental activism--although without allying themselves with mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club.

The debate over Christianity's relationship to environmental harm really began in 1967, when medieval historian Lynn White Jr. wrote an influential essay blaming Christianity for nurturing a Western form of science that treated nonhuman nature as simply soulless stuff.

The response by many Christians was to angrily attack environmentalism as "false religion".

But maybe people like Pastor Haggard are looking for a different path.

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