For more than three years, a number of politicians and media observers have prophesied about the fracturing of the coveted “evangelical vote” over the issue of environmental stewardship. And during the same period, a handful of evangelicals have toiled to persuade the faithful that manmade global warming is such a serious threat that it deserves top priority in their social witness.
Now, as Election Day approaches and both parties vie for that evangelical vote, one can’t help reminding the candidates that global warming hype, despite all the media buzz, is not an issue that evangelicals embrace.
National Association of Evangelicals vice president for governmental affairs Richard Cizik and Evangelical Environmental Network president Jim Ball, among others, have spoken at hundreds of churches, colleges, and other venues promoting the “green” evangelical cause. Two years ago they even managed to persuade 86 high-profile pastors, college presidents, and others to sign “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” – a declaration heralded by mainstream media that normally ignore evangelical pronouncements on other, less politically correct issues.
Yet there was less to that document than met the eye. Its backers fell short of their main goal: endorsement by the National Association of Evangelicals, representing over 30 million evangelicals.
Instead, in January 2006, the NAE board’s executive committee reaffirmed its commitment to an earlier document, “For the Health of the Nation: A Call to Civic Responsibility,” which said nothing about global warming, and instructed its staff not to exceed its statements.
Ignoring the executive committee’s instruction, Cizik helped convene a joint venture between academic and evangelical global warming alarmists the following fall, carefully implying the NAE’s endorsement. At a January 2007 press conference he called climate change “a moral concern for all Americans” and insisted that “God will judge us” if we don’t respond. He invited evangelicals with questions about the science to enter into a dialogue, but by June he had begun warning that:
“God will judge those who destroy the earth. In fact it says in Revelation 11:18 that God will destroy those who destroy the earth. That is a warning. That is a warning to all of those who would say this doesn’t matter. And so for those who have an argument on this issue, I say, 'I’m sorry. Your argument is not with me. Your argument is with God, because either His Word says this or it doesn’t, and it does.'”
Cizik implies that Christians who fail to support his position on climate change are hypocrites or worse, going so far as to rebuke them from Hebrews 10:31 (a warning of damnation for those who reject the faith): “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” This isn’t hyperbole because “climate change,” in his view, “is an overarching issue of justice — the biggest of the 21st century."
While Cizik’s advocacy has been growing over the past two years, the original document rejected by the NAE board in 2006 (the “Evangelical Call to Action” on climate change) still suffers from a lack of credibility. It fails to list any authors, offers almost no evidence, and cites no authoritative scientific or economic studies. None of its 86 original signers had scientific or economic expertise needed to assess its claims, and in the years since then, while several signers have removed their signatures, no new signers with such expertise have been added.