Tea Party Defends Climate Pollution As Lord’s Will

In a front-page article in the New York Times, John Broder noted that opposition to the science of global warming has become “an article of faith” among Tea Party conservative activists. In addition to libertarians who believe “efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth,” others — prodded by the “preaching” of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and others — use their Biblical faith to justify their denial of the destructive power of coal and oil pollution. Tea Party organizers in Rep. Baron Hill’s (D-IN) district told Broder their denial of pollution was consistent with the Bible’s teachings:

I read my Bible. He made this earth for us to utilize.” — Norman Dennison, founder of the Corydon Tea Party

Being a strong Christian, I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us.” — Lisa Deaton, founder of We the People Indiana

Of course, the Bible teaches not only that earth’s bounty is a gift to humanity, but also that we must be its shepherds:

The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. Lev. 25:23-24

I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable. Jer. 2:7

“These Tea Party people represent a fringe view not only in politics, but also in religion,” Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Politics, tells the Wonk Room. “The majority of Christians and other people of faith are supportive of protecting the environment precisely because of their religious beliefs, including the belief in God as creator.”

Many Christians, across the spectrum from evangelical to mainline to progressive, as well as scientists, celebrated when a group of evangelicals issued a statement in 2006 called “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” This “biblically based moral witness” sets its theological claim for the urgency of climate change action in the biblical view of God as creator, and that damaging the creation is “an offense against God himself.”

“The world is less than it might be so long as human beings are less than they might be, since the capacity of human beings to shape the material environment into a sign of justice and generosity is blocked by human selfishness,” Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in 2009. “In the doomsday scenarios we are so often invited to contemplate, the ultimate tragedy is that a material world capable of being a manifestation in human hands of divine love is left to itself, as humanity is gradually choked, drowned or starved by its own stupidity.”

Religious leaders from Christian and other faiths are also mobilizing to fight big oil’s Proposition 23 effort kill California’s climate protection law. “My Christian faith calls me to care for my neighbor and all that God has created,” explained Rev. Dean W. Nelson, Bishop, Southwest California Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in a press announcement today. “Proposition 23 calls us to look back, not forward, and to cast a blind eye to the urgent consequences of our addiction to fossil fuels. These consequences include affects on human health, human-caused climate change and its threat to food and water supplies and densely populated coastal areas, and our economic vulnerability to global energy politics and prices.”

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