Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Top Biblical Verses That Illustrate Why Rick Santorum is Out of Step with Christianity on Environmental Issues

By Stephen Lacey  

"Top Biblical Verses That Illustrate Why Rick Santorum is Out of Step with Christianity on Environmental Issues"

Share:

google plus icon

Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum doesn’t hide his deep disdain for environmental protection.

As Santorum gains media traction after three unofficial primary wins, the outspoken Catholic has been increasingly vocal about his strong dislike of environmentalists. Speaking at a rally this past weekend, Santorum called Obama’s environmental policies a “phony theology” designed to “give more power to the government.”

“When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government.”

Santorum often expresses his strong dislike for environmental protection within a religious context, saying that humans were “put on this earth … for our benefit, not for the earth’s benefit.” However, this belief is completely out of step with mainstream religious leaders — including the Pope — who have called on world leaders to address climate change and other pressing environmental issues in order “protect all creation.”

Santorum’s stance on environmental issues stems from a passage in Genesis 1:28, which reads: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Expressing his interpretation of this passage at a campaign rally recently, Santorum explained that “we were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth…. We should not let the vagaries of nature destroy what we have helped create.” He also said that environmentalism is “a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth.”

However, Santorum confuses this Genesis passage as a command for exploitation, extraction and waste — when in fact the Bible clearly explains that the earth is a gift to be taken care of, not fouled.

Stewardship of the earth is not just a strong theme in Genesis. It’s a very strong theme throughout the entire Old Testament. So what other messages does the Bible deliver on the importance of environmental protection? Here are some of the best:

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

“Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:17-18)

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24)

“You must keep my decrees and my laws…. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:26, 28)

“You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

“If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)

“I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.” (Jeremiah 2:7)

Each of these messages run completely counter to Santorum’s hostile views on environmentalism, and taken as a whole undermine his belief that environmentalism is at odds with the Bible.

Based on his political stance, Santorum’s belief that humans have “dominion over the earth” is less about protecting it for future generations, and more about opening up it up for more drilling, mining and exploitation — all of which are contributing to a “perfect storm of social and ecological problems” for the planet.

Catherine Woodiwiss of the Faith and Progressive Policy team at the Center for American Progress contributed to this story.

‹ Obama Mocks Drill, Baby, Drill: ‘The American People Aren’t Stupid’

Obama: Our Children Want Us To Preserve The Planet ›

27 Responses to Top Biblical Verses That Illustrate Why Rick Santorum is Out of Step with Christianity on Environmental Issues

  1. Susan Anderson says:

    And almost all of Isaiah, IIRC

  2. Susan Anderson says:

    Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)

    (note: I’m agnostic tending atheist; why do we have to have a giant human minder in the sky to behave – and note, many of those who believe in that, don’t – behave, that is.)

  3. todd tanner says:

    Revelation 11:18

    And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

  4. MorinMoss says:

    Far too many who claim to live by the good book have never really read it.

  5. denim says:

    Creative translation of Genesis 1:28. Many Protestants consider the King James Version the inspired translation. The New King James Version, not so much. Notice how cleverly the command to replenish the earth has “slipped through the cracks” so that repair and replenishment expenses could be avoided by the sponsors.
    KJV:
    Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

  6. M Tucker says:

    Ash Wednesday debate. No ashes on the foreheads of the two prominent Catholic candidates who rhetorically suck up to all Christians for their votes. No questions from CNN about that. I wonder what the reaction to that is among the Christian voters who saw the debate? Many protestant religions also follow that practice. I wonder what mr frothy and the newt gave up for Lent? They might try to say it would not have been compatible with TV makeup but Colbert always does his Ash Wednesday show proudly displaying the ash. Maybe I somehow missed seeing it. I admit it was very hard to stay in front of my TV because I had to excuse myself repeatedly for puke trips; that crowd is hard to stomach.

  7. MarkfromLexington says:

    The environmentalists I know are working to elevate the rights of everyone alive today, our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in a climate suitable for life.

    And yes, we elevate those rights above the rights of those who would sacrifice our health to maximize their short term profits.

  8. Tim says:

    I’m sorry, but biblical verses can be extracted to make just about any point you want to make – from the sublime to the execrable. Playing biblical quotation games with the likes of Rick Santorum seems pretty silly.

  9. caerbannog says:

    A Bible verse for global-warming deniers.

    Proverbs 26:11

    As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

  10. LT says:

    ‘..environmentalism is “a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth.”’

    Actually it is a worldview that recognizes that man is a creature of the Earth and entirely dependent on it. To harm the Earth is to harm ourselves. This message has been submerged too often in appeals to “protect the environment”. I don’t deny that the “environment” has a right to be protected for its own sake, but more emphasis on the human consequences of environmental degradation, especially the HEALTH consequences, is needed to get through some thick skulls.

    I once gave a talk to medical students on the human health implications of climate change. The first question from the audience came from an angry young man who suggested that I would no doubt think it a good thing for the “environment” if half the human population succumbed to some nasty scourge. Huh? Maybe good for the “environment – at least until the decimated population doubled its per capita consumption, but hardly good for humanity. We were in a medical school lecture theatre. The whole point of the talk was human health and wellbeing yet this young man had obviously labeled the talk “environmentalism”. So he shut up his mind and completely missed the point. And he’s not alone.

    • Raul M. says:

      Hum, I spoke yesterday to a woman about why they had decided to name the state Flora duh.
      I told her that except for a few brief times in my 50+ years, I have enjoyed fair weather and that I am conditioned to expecting “nice weather”.
      Some do seem to expect a moral haven.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I must say that I do not see the likes of Mr Santorum as ‘Christians’. For a start, who but a loon can imagine the Nazarene denying climate science and putting the lives of billions at risk? Mr Santorum seems to me to be primarily a Rightwing personality type, and we all know what that means. According to slander from his erstwhile Senate colleagues to the effect that Rick wasn’t the sharpest knife in the cutlery draw, we can also surmise that Mr Santorum is a prize specimen of the Dunning-Kruger type, who proliferate in plague proportions amongst the anti-environmentalist hordes of the Right.
    With most of these authoritarian, paranoid, willfully ignorant types of so-called ‘Christian’ I see their religiosity as superficial and egotistical. Basically, they’re frightened of death, and febrile declarations of obedience to the Almighty will rescue them, they imagine, from annihilation. I wish them luck, but I’d be a bit worried over a wrathful Deity not pleased to greet an enthusiastic apostle of the destruction of his Creation, all for a mess of pottage.

  12. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    Santorum does not represent the views of the religion he claims to follow, which is catholicism. The pope frequently condemns the gross economic inequality that is prevelent in todays world (caused by capitalism), and the mass destruction of God’s creation (by economic pollution). The interpretation of the bible by the pope and the vatican are generally progressive on economic and environmental issues, they support government intervening to help the poor and the sick, the catholic church also helps immigrants. If santorum claims to be religious, he appears to be in the wrong religion, he needs to find a church that believes we have no obligation to the poor, the sick, or the downtrodden.

    To the list of bible quotes you can also add the line about how it is hard for a rich man to get into heaven. Also, for global warming,

    “the day is comming that burns like an oven. The wicked will be like straw (fuel) and the day will burn them up. A righeous sun will shine on those who follow God” (solar energy?)

    “he who sows the wind shall reap the superstorm”

    The prophesy of president bush,

    “Woe to You Oh Earth and Sea
    for the Devil sends the beast with wrath
    because he knows the time is short
    Let him who have understanding
    reckon the number of the beast
    for it is a human number
    its number is six hundred and sixty six.”

  13. Chris says:

    As a Catholic I have to say Santorum’s actions are beyond shameful and he is truly an embarrassment to the Catholic faith. I cannot think of any instance which can even come close in magnitude to giving such a bad impression of Catholics.

    • John McCormick says:

      Let’s include the history of the Spanish Inquisition and a few other Catholic ventures.

      • SmilingAhab says:

        Those were near to a millenium ago. Empires kill. Why would an empire claiming a mandate from heaven be different? This is about today’s workaday Catholics.

    • Tim says:

      There is that widespread child molestation by priests, subsequent cover-up, and reassignment of those priests enabling of more child rape, but hey, who’s keeping track?

      • Ray Kondrasuk says:

        Amid the host of interviewees in Bill Maher’s religion-questioning movie “Religulous”, the creationist museum cast offered fervently faithful, colorful characters.

        The most down-to-earth, credible representation was made (I’m proud to say as a somewhat believing Catholic) by the Vatican’s chief science officer.

      • SmilingAhab says:

        Institutional corruption. All institutions are prone to corruption and cronyism, especially translucent and opaque institutions such as the Church. This is behavior overwhelmingly derided by the laity. The laity, whom this comment is about and for.

  14. Spike says:

    The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

    And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day

    He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

    But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

    Isaiah 58 and much of the rest of the book.

    Santorum and others like him are not reading into the heart of the Book.

  15. dan allen says:

    Wendell Berry has several very excellent essays on this topic.

  16. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    There’s some verse out of context. In talking about pollution and defiling the land it often refers to moral pollution and defilement, not physical pollution. Still, the general theme in the Old Testament is to look after the land. There are a number of verses dealing with how to till your land, let it stand fallow every few years, and other general looking after your land and animals advice.

    Like many U.S. politicians who stand up and claim to be Christian, Santorum doesn’t seem to have read the book he metaphorically waves around.

  17. NJP1 says:

    The bible is just a book of (some)common sense (thank you Ms Woodiwiss) a lot of none-sense laced with (some)history. Do we really need politicians like Santorum inflaming gullible fools with his rantings based on a 3000 year old book of myths and fairy stories told to frighten children of all ages and justify evil?
    It has been used by charlatans of every stripe to inflict themselves on others, and still those abused by biblical law (particularly women and subjected peoples) scream hallelujah and demand more of the same
    we live in the real world of here and now, it’s time to end this theocratic nonsense and stop listening to this endless succession of Elmer Gantries
    The only benefit in Santorum’s raving is, like society in general, the lunatic at least makes the rest of us seem sane.

  18. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Gandhi may have seen it clearest and spoke it plainest: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    Regarding morality: The Geneticists and the Darwinists have many plausible theories on the development of morality via Natural Selection.

    • Ray Kondrasuk says:

      Good one, Dennis.

      I’d heard another quote (Ghandi must have many) that went something like “Christianity would be the world’s greatest religion, if it weren’t for… …the Christians.”

  19. “I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.”
    Jeremiah 21:5

  20. mulp says:

    George Stephanopolis is an intelligent man, but rather stupid – all he needed to destroy Santorum was to ask “Is Warren Jeffs a political prisoner persecuted in violation of his First Amendment religious liberty rights for practicing his Christian FLDS faith, the same faith practiced by Mitt Romney’s great grandfather?”

    I’m sure Santorum would effectively say religious faith is what Santorum says it is, not what liberals like George say it is with their gotcha questions. But it would get into the history of government dictating religious faith in the US as conservatives tried to argue the question was invalid and violated Santorum’s First Amendment rights.