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The Green Left's Excellent Adventure By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Sunday, October 29, 2006

The evangelical Left, anxious to peel evangelicals away from conservative coalitions and voting habits, has latched onto global warming as its magical wedge issue. Several prominent evangelical Left personalities are hyping the new Keanu Reaves-narrated scare-film about a boiling planet called The Great Warming.   

“We are living at the dawn of a new epoch,” warns the film’s website promo. “Year by year, degree by degree, Earth is growing warmer...a legacy of the Industrial Revolution, population growth, and our addiction to technology, speed and power.”

The “carbon free” movie warns viewers: “Just as other generations spoke of a Great Plague and a Great Depression, our children will be compelled to endure The Great Warming - and find a way to conquer its consequences.”

When some evangelicals flocked to movies about the Great End Times prophesied in Scripture, the Left mocked their harmless fascination. Now, Hollywood and the Green Left applauds as ostensibly more hip evangelicals, anxious to show the world how different they are, latch onto Global Warming as their more politically correct Apocalypse. Hollywood glitterati, Ted Turner, and the New York Times are not likely to lavish praise on another installment of the Left Behind series. But apocalyptic warnings about a planet that will burn up unless the United States repents of its carbon sins are sure to attract the Beautiful People.  

On the Democratic Party’s new Faithfuldemocrats.com website to attract religious voters, former Ted Kennedy staffer Eric Sapp hails The Great Warming for bringing together the Christian Coalition, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Civil Rights movement, and liberal evangelist Tony Campolo. All of these entities, according to Sapp, had joined in a teleconference for the media to tout the film and its “Call to Action,” of which Faithfuldemocrats.com is a part.

Sapp also pointed to the “The Great Warming’s” “Call to Action,” whose endorsers include Ted Turner, religious left activist Jim Wallis, National Council of Churches chief Bob Edgar, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stated clerk Cliff Kirkpatrick, Tikkun rabbi Michael Lerner, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, former Clinton staff John Podesta, evangelist Tony Campolo, Christianity Today editor David Neff, Islamic Society in America leader Sayyid Syeed, and performers Angelica Houston, Chevy Chase, Helen Hunt, Christopher Guest, Lucy Liu, Ed Begley, Alanis Morissette, and (of course) Keanu Reeves. Also signing was the new head of the nearly expired Christian Coalition, Joel Hunter.  

Ted Turner is the only “philanthropist” listed as an endorser. It is likely that his philanthropy helped facilitate production of The Great Warming. According to Sapp, the movie’s "awareness campaign" will involve a Christian radio ad campaign to coincide with the national release of the movie on Friday, November 3. The initial release, Sapp boats, will be larger than even Al Gore's own global warming horror flick, An Inconvenient Truth. Sapp promises: “This is a great issue for Democrats and a unique opportunity for bridge-building with the evangelical community.”

Prominently featured in the movie is National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) Washington representative Richard Cizik, who has become a true believer in global warming.  Cizik’s prominent activism on the cause caused the NAE’s board earlier this year to declare officially that NAE has no position on global warming. So, Cizik has not officially signed the “Call to Action.” But he evidently participated in the film’s teleconference for media, and an interview with Cizik is featured on the film’s website. 

“I have had a conversion to this cause,” Cizik relates. “The climate change crisis that we believe is occurring is not something we can wait ten years, five years, even a year, to address. Climate change is real and human induced.” Harming the world through “environmental degradation is an offense against God,” he warns. Cizik dates his “conversion” to 2002, when evangelical left activist Jim Ball of the “What Would Jesus Drive” anti-SUV campaign “dragged” him to Oxford, England, for a global warming summit featuring scientist and Christian thinker John Houghton. “I had, as John Wesley would say, a ‘warming of my heart,’ Cizik recalls. “A conversion to a cause which I believe every Christian should be committed to.”

After his Oxford conversion, Cizik returned home, sold his gas guzzler, bought a Prius, and renewed his interest in recycling. He notes that evangelicals comprise 40-50 percent of the “Republican base” and Republican politicians, who “have stymied action on climate change, will “have to listen” if evangelicals become as passionate as Cizik is about climate change.

Promoters of The Great Warming are hoping that other evangelicals will have dramatic conversions to the global warming cause.like Cizik. No doubt, many of these new enthusiasts for the planet are full of passionate sincerity. But some seem to see acceptance of disastrous scenarios of global warming, fueled exclusively by human activity, as almost an article of faith, transcending need for logical argument.  For them, it has become intrinsically a struggle between noble friends of the earth and wicked allies of the fossil fuels industry.  They have adopted climate activism as a new crusade.

Evangelicals are more famous, or notorious, for preaching about the impending End Times. At least that old kind of preaching pointed listeners towards repentance...and God. This new mode of climate revivalism points evangelicals towards a very differently kind of imagined apocalypse, in which the solution is not divine intervention but increased government regulation, reduced standards of living, diminished national sovereignty, and enhanced powers for international bureaucracies. That Old Time Religion now looks more appealing, because it involves God.

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Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

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