Saturday, March 25, 2006

Speaking of Impending Doom

Speaking of impending doom, that feeling has traditionally informed the more conservative religious views. The idea that this world is so irredeemable that our only hope is The Kingdom of God--whether in the afterlife in Heaven or in The Second Coming of Christ and "The End of the World." God has given up on the sinners and is coming for the saved. Kind of like with Noah and the great flood. And it is going to happen anytime. Soon. Probably in five minutes. Thus the urgency to save as many souls as possible and such. The apocalypse is nigh.

One of the ways in which this attitude manifests in conservative politics is environmental policies (or lack of them). The world is doomed anyway, and will soon be over, so why bother trying to preserve nature? God will destroy it before our pollution can. And even if God doesn't, what will it matter compared to our glory in Heaven to follow? So there's no need to take care of the earth. According to Jim Wallis, though, that mindset might be changing:
The Religious Right is losing control

For more than a decade, a series of environmental initiatives have been coming from an unexpected source - a new generation of young evangelical activists. Mostly under the public radar screen, they were covered in places such as Sojourners and Prism, the magazine of Evangelicals for Social Action. There were new and creative projects such as the Evangelical Environmental Network and Creation Care magazine. In November, 2002, one of these initiatives got some national attention - a campaign called "What Would Jesus Drive?" complete with fact sheets, church resources, and bumper stickers. The campaign was launched with a Detroit press conference and meetings with automotive executives.

Recently, more establishment evangelical groups, especially the National Association of Evangelicals, also began to speak up on the issue of creation care. . . .

. . . The Evangelical Climate Initiative is of enormous importance and could be a tipping point in the climate change debate, according to one secular environmental leader I talked to. But of even wider importance, these events signal a sea change in evangelical Christian politics: The Religious Right is losing control. They have now lost control on the environmental issue - caring for God's creation is now a mainstream evangelical issue, especially for a new generation of evangelicals. But now so is sex trafficking, the genocide in Darfur, the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and, of course, global and domestic poverty. The call to overcome extreme poverty abroad and at home, in the world's richest nation, is becoming a new altar call around the world - a principal way Christians are deciding to put their faith into practice. . . .

. . . For many, poverty is the new slavery. Again, this is especially true for a new generation of Christians. The connection between poverty and all the other key issues - the environment, HIV/AIDS, and violent conflicts around the world are increasingly clear for many people of faith.

The sacredness of life and family values are deeply important to these Christians as well - yet too important to be used as partisan wedge issues that call for single issue voting patterns that ignore other critical biblical matters. The Religious Right has been able to win when they have been able to maintain and control a monologue on the relationship between faith and politics. But when a dialogue begins about the extent of moral values issues and what biblically-faithful Christians should care about, the Religious Right begins to lose. The best news of all for the American church and society is this: The monologue of the Religious Right is over, and a new dialogue has just begun.

1 comment:

Degolar said...

Selling the Forests
It's rarely a good idea to sell off assets to pay normal operating expenses. It's an even worse idea when the assets are chunks of national forest. But that's exactly what the Bush administration wants to do. . . .