Among the Intellectualoids

Hot Under the Collar

But religiously anti-oil and anti-life.

By 12.19.13


The world now faces its 16th year of no global temperature increases after the 20th century’s one degree increase. Naturally, the faithfully devout believers in cataclysmic human induced “climate change,” formerly known as “global warming,” are digging in their heels, only reluctantly admitting the “pause,” if at all. Liberal religious activists, who specialize in transferring faith away from orthodox belief towards statist political empowerment, are among the most determined climate fundamentalists. There can be no heresy tolerated in the church of radical environmentalism. 

A recent article in Jim Wallis’ Sojourners ignored the stall in global warming and instead plaintively asked: “WHY IS IT so hard for people to respond effectively to the reality of climate change?”

It helpfully listed five stages of “climate grief,” that include denial (“that the Earth is warming and that the warming is caused by humans”), anger (“that anyone should suggest that their lifestyle be changed”), bargaining (“by suggesting that ‘it won’t be all bad’”), depression (“at the almost unimaginable reality of the problem”), and acceptance (“enabling active exploration of solutions).

The author, who is an ecumenical lay preacher focused on “social justice and climate change,” urged a new “relationship with the earth” requiring that “everything must change,” including even how we dry our clothes. She conclusively warned:There is no glory to be found in the destruction of God’s Creation.”

Of course, the Sojourners social justice preacher did not address the potential grief, anger, and depression that might result for her community if climate change cataclysm is delayed or forestalled altogether. 

Also ignoring the stagnation in temperature rise is the Evangelical Environmental Network, which recently opined that “things are going to get worse and we must prepare for that; and if we don’t do the right thing, even more dire consequences will result.” It claimed more heat waves, violent storms, rising sea levels, intensified floods, and droughts plus destructive wildfires. At least the evangelical climate activists tried to be hopeful, declaring the “worst consequences are not inevitable,” and “God is with us, and He will help and guide us in overcoming climate change as He does with everything else.”

Even more apoplectic was chief United Methodist lobbyist Jim Winkler, who’s recently been named the new head of the National Council of Churches. Naturally he’s upset about all the “fracking, tar sands and oil-field development” happening in America. “I am among the vast majority of people in the world who believe climate change is occurring,” he solemnly shares. “As you might expect, there are those, especially in corporations profiting from fossil fuel, who oppose efforts to move toward greater use of solar and wind energy. They have had considerable success in convincing many people of the notion that climate change is a hoax.”

Ostensibly big oil is funding the doubts about human fueled climate calamity, but Winkler doesn’t mention that climate activism and environmentalism are themselves billion dollar industries with their own far more considerable corporate and political clout. He’s distressed about the economic and population growth that fossil fuel extraction is facilitating, even expanding church membership, about which church liberals, who’ve always specialized in reducing churches, have always been wary. “Dakotas and Texas have reported a sense of great excitement about the growth of churches in local communities where oil drilling, fracking, and/or the building of the Keystone XL pipeline is underway,” Winkler ominously noted, disapprovingly quoting one church newspaper: “God’s abundance is all around us for welcoming new people into Christian community.”

Winkler asked: “Should we be excited about growing new churches when the oil drilling and hydraulic fracking in those communities may well hasten environmental catastrophe? Are we so profoundly panicked over long-term membership loss that we are gleeful to be, in effect, complicit in this pollution, melting of the polar ice cap, rising sea levels, and higher temperatures around the world?” He gloomily concluded by echoing Sojourners: “There is no glory to be found in the destruction of God’s Creation.” Expressing hope in a divestment campaign aimed at fossil fuel, he regretted that too many churches and schools already profit from “exploitation and desecration.”

For 40 years Winkler’s agency has been a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (formerly called the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights), which advocates abortion as a religious right. Fears about population growth and too many babies is a central focus for oldline Protestant liberals dating back 50 years or more. The last 50 years globally have witnessed increased but leveling population trends along with exponential economic growth and vastly improving living standards especially for the world’s poor, hundreds of millions of whom have become middle class. To the extent global temperatures increased in the last century, they did not inhibit and arguably fueled greater agricultural productivity and food production, bolstering greater wealth for additional billions of people.

Such good news is bad news for dour church activists obsessed with the last century’s discredited progressive causes that identified economic growth with apocalypse. Increased fossil fuel production means cheaper and more fuel that will foster even greater economic growth for Americans and most of the world. No wonder the Religious Left is so unhappy.

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About the Author

Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth CenturyYou can follow him on Twitter @markdtooley.