The religious left views capitalism as the root of a rapacious greed that causes men to exploit and even destroy the natural environment in exchange for financial profit. To combat these forces, religious leftists commonly anoint themselves as stewards of God's earth, committed to defending its air, water, animals, plants, and natural resources from the ravages of free-market economies – especially America's. (They have had less to say about the fact that China, the old Soviet Union, and the former Communist states of Eastern and Central Europe were responsible for pollution on a scale that dwarfed anything ever observed in the Western world.)
According to Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action:
“Christians must become vigorous environmentalists because God’s Word demands it, because we are destroying the Creator’s garden, and because many secular environmentalists are on a deep spiritual pilgrimage.... The way to defeat Satan is for all Christians to become committed environmentalists and to ground their struggles to save the earth on solid biblical foundations.... We need to repent of our unspoken belief that more is better, that more and more material abundance brings fulfillment.”
The Christian author Paul Brand warns, “We need to repent of our willing cooperation in our money-centered culture, which is depleting the natural resources that God designed for all humankind.”
Paul Gorman, founder of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, says: “We don’t believe we are going to reverse the environmental crisis by simply passing laws.... Unless you have that fundamental change in values, many of us believe environmental degradation will be irreversible.”
Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, has proclaimed the virtues of the Kyoto Protocol which seeks to impose massive environmental restrictions and financial burdens on the United States while requiring virtually nothing of developing industrial nations like India and China. Campbell insists that an acceptance of the radical environmentalist movement's assertions about man-made global warming ought to be considered a “litmus test for the faith community.”
In 2004, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis asserted that “religion must talk about the environment as God's creation to protect and be good stewards of.” Three years later, Wallis expressed his great admiration for “environmental evangelist” Al Gore's crusade against global warming. Wrote Wallis: “There is more and more evidence that the ... polar ice caps are melting at a shocking rate.... It is indeed a crisis of biblical proportions.”
In 2006, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Center for Health and Global Environment met at Harvard Medical School for a retreat to unite faith leaders and scientists on issues of climate change and global warming. Participants drafted and signed a call-to-action, which they presented in 2007 to President George W. Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, congressional leaders, and national scientific and evangelical organizations.
Also in 2006, scores of evangelical leaders signed an Evangelical Climate Initiative pledging their efforts to combat global warming. Two years later , 46 leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention – America's largest Protestant denomination – signed a similar declaration.
In November 2009, religious leaders from around the world gathered in England, along with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, to commit themselves to collaborative action against global warming, which they said was chiefly a result of human industrial activity and the greenhouse gases it emitted.
One of the harshest critics of American industry is the Evangelical Environmental Network, which seeks “to educate, inspire, and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God’s creation, to be faithful stewards of God’s provision, and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment.” Toward this end, the organization publishes environment-centered sermons for preachers to use, and offers interpretations of scripture to support leftist environmental agendas.
A San Francisco-based group called the Regeneration Project – claiming to represent more than 5,000 church congregations in 29 states – has launched an “Interfaith Power and Light” campaign aimed at countering man-made global warming. In February 2009 another Regeneration Project initiative – “Religious Plea for a Green Stimulus” – delivered to President Barack Obama a petition opposing the construction of any new coal-fired plants in the U.S., urging drastic and rapid reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, and calling for increased fuel-economy standards for American-made automobiles. “When billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake, it is a moral issue,” said the Project's founder, Rev. Canon Sally Bingham. “When the planet is in peril, it is a moral issue.”
The National Council of Churches (NCC) has established an Eco-Justice Program to lobby Members of Congress to support legislation that will preserve public lands and reduce carbon emissions. In 2002 NCC was a party to “What Would Jesus Drive?” — a campaign that exhorted car manufactures to embrace stricter emissions standards.
An organization called Presbyterians for Earth Care (formerly known as Presbyterians for Restoring Creation) opposes oil drilling in Alaska's Artic National Wildlife Refuge as part of an effort to heed “God’s call to be green.”
The Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), representing a host of religious organizations with a combined investment portfolio of more than $100 billion, pressures corporations to adopt leftist environmental agendas vis a vis pollution in low-income communities. ICCR also demands an end to “environmental racism,” a term founded on the notion that corporate polluters typically dispose of their waste in a manner that disproportionately affects poor, nonwhite populations.
The National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) – a massive coalition supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Evangelical Environmental Network – warns that “the ways we produce and use energy are wounding God’s creation.” To address this issue, NRPE urges Americans to organize “environmental awareness days,” write letters-to-the-editor about environmental matters, and lobby their political representatives “to play a strong international role in researching and preserving biodiversity worldwide.”
This section of Discover The Networks examines the environmentalist worldviews, objectives, and activities of these and many other key organizations that comprise the religious left.