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The Church of Global Warming By: Mark Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 06, 2006

Preachers used to warn of divine judgment if sinners did not repent and turn to God.

Now, increasingly, preachers of the Left are instead warning of cataclysmic climate change if polluters (especially of the American variety) do not abandon economic growth and yield to the most apocalyptic scenarios of the environmental movement.


President Bush, of course, is the main King Ahab against whom these prophets of doom now prophesy.


The most recent prophecy, in March, came from the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury.  Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of nearly 80 million Anglicans worldwide, warned that politicians, i.e. Bush, might precipitate the deaths of "billions" of people if they do not go sufficiently green.


According to Ecumenical News International, Williams declared that Bush's supposed refusal to cut greenhouse emissions was not compatible with Christianity.


"We very often come across situations where people are judged for not responding to warnings," the archbishop said. "I think what the Bible and the Christian tradition suggest is that those who have that challenge put before them, and not only that challenge but the evidence of it, and don't respond," Williams said, "bear a very heavy responsibility before God."


"Nobody likes talking about governmental coercion in this respect, whether it is speed limits or anything else," he said. "Nobody, for that matter, likes talking about enforceable international protocols."


But "unless there is a real change in attitudes," Williams added, "we have to contemplate these very unwelcome possibilities if we want the global economy not to collapse and millions, billions, of people not to die."


Not even the most extreme environmental pressure groups typically have the nerve to claim a potential death toll of "billions" if warnings of Global Warming are not heeded.  But bishops and theologians, used to speaking in the parlance of the Almighty, are often more given to hyperbole and flamboyant exaggeration than are their secular allies.


Many Western church prelates of the Left are open to debate the authority of Scriptures and the central doctrines of Christianity.  But for them, the latest and most extreme doomsday scenarios of the environmentalist movement must be accepted unquestioningly.  Otherwise, they warn, a very, very hot Judgement Day is coming, in the form of Global Warming.


Last year, the presiding bishop of the 5 million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America appropriately used Earth Day, which he called the "Earth's Easter," to summon Lutherans to the altar call of Global Warming.  Bishop Mark Hanson insisted that "our liturgical celebration of Earth Day" was a "matter of life and death," with the threat of climate change drawing nigh.


Citing an Arctic tribe of Lutherans whose village supposedly will soon be inundated by melting ice, Bishop Hanson warned of a similar deluge of sorts for millions of others around the globe.  That is, unless they repent.


"The forces unleashed by global climate change are literally washing away the earth," the bishop somberly preached, like Noah of old.   "How will the rest of us respond to global climate change and its threat to the well-being of all creatures and species around the earth?" he asked darkly.


Bishop Hanson called "all Americans to acknowledge our sinful complicity in producing one-quarter of the world’s carbon emissions, which exacerbate global warming, even though we are only five percent of the planet’s human population."  The prelate's sermonizing, though phrased in the verbiage of religiosity, was drawn from the usual talking points of the Green Left.


"We are committed to repent of our own sinful misuse and abuse of the Earth, direct and indirect," Hanson intoned.  "We do this especially for the sake of the poor of the earth, working on their behalf, even as we contend with entrenched political, economic, and social forces."


The identity of these demonic and "entrenched" forces went unnamed by Hanson, at least this time, but the names are easily imagined:  Bush, the United States, oil companies, and perhaps the Religious Right, whose mindless denizens supposedly want to pollute and heat the planet until the Second Coming.


This "false gospel" of conservative religious believers who are allegedly more concerned about personal salvation than the salvation of a groaning Earth was the special target of select theologians assembled by the National Council of Churches.  They gathered in Washington, D.C. in February 2005, only weeks before Hanson's liturgical Earth Day prophecy. And they too called for repentance by a polluting America, in a declaration called "God's Earth is Sacred."


"We have abused and exploited the Earth and people on the margins of power and privilege, altering climates, extinguishing species, and jeopardizing Earth's capacity to sustain life as we know and love it," the NCC's green prophets proclaimed.  Like many pronouncements from the Religious Left, it draped its condemnation of U.S. policies in the pious language of self-mortification.  The "we repent" rhetorical ploy is actually a wagging finger pointed at the non-believers who are ignoring the Religious Left's prophecies and provoking Mother Earth's heated fury.


The NCC green prophets naturally pointed out that any authentic "repentance of our social and ecological sins" must acknowledge the "special responsibility" of the earth's polluter in chief:  the United States. Besides spewing out black emissions that are going to microwave the earth, the U.S. is busily perpetuating "scandalous inequities at home and abroad."


How can America repent for its complicity in Global Warming? The "repentance" required by the Religious Left includes all the demands of the secular Green Left:  comply with the Kyoto Accord, reduce economic growth, regulate the economy more, increase taxes, reduce U.S. sovereignty, maximize U.S. aid to the supposed global victims of America's pollution and greed.


Perhaps, then, a benevolent Mother Earth will withhold her anger, and spare a repentant America and the rest of the world from Her divine judgment of Global Warming, with its rising sea levels, withering crops, increased disease and pestilence, and, as Archbishop Williams warned, "billions" of deaths.

That's the prophecy of the Religious Left.  More traditional religionists will recall, with the Psalmist, that the earth is the Lord's footstool, and it is not the fragile porcelain imagined by some ardent secularists and religious faddists.  God may indeed judge the world, but the sins that provoke Him might be more serious than purchasing an SUV or occasionally voting Republican.

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

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