November 05, 2012 | permalink
Within evangelical Christianity, as within any faith group, there is a range of approaches to scientific thought and climate issues, and there is activism on both ends of the spectrum. My November 4 piece for the Guardian, titled America’s Theologians of Climate Science Denial, focused on the role of the Cornwall Alliance, which is on the one end of that spectrum and encourages a contempt for climate science. I feel it is necessary to draw attention to the position that the Cornwall Alliance represents because their supporters appear to be the ones setting the agenda within the Republican Party. They drive politics and policy, and are behind efforts to degrade science education in public schools.
Evangelicals who subscribe to different ways of thinking on the environment, such as the Creation Care movement or that of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, may feel overlooked or slighted when initiatives such as the Cornwall Alliance are broadly described as “evangelical.” If our main concern is to represent the contemporary evangelical movement in all its diversity, then they might have a point. But our real concern now has to be with the way in which the evangelical religion is used in contemporary politics and policy. As far as the politics of religion in America go, it is the Cornwall Alliance folks who are “winning” the message game. And they, at least, are adamant that their politics follows directly from their religion.
When politicians and religious leaders conflate their religion with a particular policy position, they do harm to their own religion – the subject of my October 24 Guardian piece, titled How Christian Fundamentalism Feeds the Toxic Partisanship of U.S. Politics.
When religion is reduced to a small handful of wedge issues, when Americans urged to vote their “Biblical values” are told that that means voting along party lines, or are told that the environmental movement is “un-Biblical,” it becomes shrill and reduced. This abuse of religion has been tremendously damaging for American politics. But it bears repeating here that it has also been tremendously destructive of American religion.