Founded in 1993, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is “to educate, inspire, and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God’s creation.” Central to EEN’s mission is the notion that environmental activism is a fundamental requirement of the Christian faith. For instance, EEN president Jim Ball’s book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change, seeks to inspire “a new conversation on climate change and Christian discipleship.”
EEN is one of four religious groups comprising the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), a coalition founded by Paul Gorman. Other organizations in the partnership include the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Council of Churches. EEN has received vital financial support from NRPE annually since at least 2003.
EEN began as a ministry of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), an organization founded by Ronald J. Sider — who is currently a board member of both EEN and NRPE — to promote left-wing politics in the Christian community. Calvin DeWitt, an environmentalist and population-control advocate (who wrote the foreword to the book Six Billion and More: Human Population Regulation & Christian Ethics), also played a role in establishing EEN.
In its earliest days, EEN focused on building a religious environmentalist movement for NRPE. In 1994, under NRPE’s direction, EEN mailed “environmental awareness kits” to more than 30,000 churches and synagogues. According to Calvin DeWitt, NRPE provided the funding to distribute these “strategic packets,” which “detailed contemporary environmental threats, presented a theological justification for environmental concern, and suggested ways for churches to integrate environmental themes into worship.”
In 1996, EEN waged a multi-million-dollar public-relations campaign against congressional efforts to scale back the Endangered Species Act, which EEN called the “Noah’s Ark of our day.” Media relations for the campaign were conducted by Fenton Communications, a favored public-relations firm of the Left.
In 2003, EEN president Jim Ball brought his organization significant publicity when he and his wife embarked on their “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign. The couple drove across the United States in a Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle, with those words displayed on the car’s doors. The campaign’s foundational document asserted: “Obeying Jesus in our transportation choices is one of the great Christian obligations and opportunities of the twenty-first century.”
When a serious oil leak was unleashed on the Gulf Coast in 2010, EEN used the crisis as an opportunity to bring focus to the religious environmentalist agenda. In addition to organizing a public day of prayer for the Gulf, EEN leadership made public declarations regarding the leak’s capacity to inspire people of faith to embrace clean energy and to view environmental activism as a biblical mandate.
To promote organizational outreach and movement-building, EEN provides resources and support to encourage the formation of EEN groups in religious congregations, and it engages in public-relations and educational campaigns to influence public opinion.