ATLANTA (BP)–Protecting the earth from global warming is a mandatory part of following Jesus, former Vice President Al Gore said at a “Stewardship of the Earth” luncheon Jan. 31 during the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta.
“This is not a political issue,” Gore told a crowd of approximately 2,500 paying attendees. “It is a moral issue. It is an ethical issue. It is a spiritual issue.”
Gore quoted Scripture several times in his speech and repeated his views that increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere are causing a global climate crisis. Gore produced an Academy Award-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which also dealt with global climate change and is being shown at the New Baptist Covenant meeting.
In an introduction of Gore, Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, called the former Democratic presidential nominee a “Baptist prophet” and appeared to criticize the Southern Baptist Convention for its failure to commend Gore for his achievements. He also presented Gore with a “Baptist of the Year Award.”
Parham formerly worked with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) but left during the transition toward conservative leadership in the convention.
“We have with us today a Baptist prophet who is so unacceptable that the Baptist establishment in his hometown of Nashville neither acknowledged his winning the Nobel Peace Prize nor honored with coverage his notable Nobel lecture,” Parham said. “Prophets are unacceptable because their truth is inconvenient.”
Parham apparently was referencing the Southern Baptist Convention. However, as early as 2004, Gore and his wife Tipper denounced their SBC ties and used the description “ecumenical” to define their religious affiliation.
Parham’s jab also could have pointed to a Southern Baptist resolution passed in 2007 “to proceed cautiously in the human-induced global warming debate in light of conflicting scientific research.” The resolution included a call for “caring stewardship and dominion over the earth and environment,” and cited scientific and economic factors typically not referenced in claims by global warming activists like Gore.
Gore, citing Luke 12:54-57 for scriptural support, argued that it is dishonest for anyone to claim that global warming is merely a theory rather than a scientific fact.
“The evidence is there,” he said. “The signal is on the mountain. The trumpet has blown. The scientists are screaming from the rooftops. The ice is melting. The land is parched. The seas are rising. The storms are getting stronger. Why do we not judge what is right?
“I think there is a distinct possibility that one of the messages coming out of this gathering and this new covenant is creation care — that we who are Baptists of like mind, in attempting in the best of our human abilities to glorify God, are not going to countenance the continued heaping on contempt on God’s creation.”
Gore said some Baptist spokesmen deny the reality of global warming because they are locked in a coalition with rich and powerful people who take advantage of the poor for economic profit.
“When did people of faith get so locked in to an ideological coalition that they got to go along with the wealthiest and most powerful who don’t want to see change of the kind that’s aimed at helping the people and protecting God’s green earth?” Gore asked.
Among the effects Gore cited of increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are floods, tornados, hurricanes and droughts. Global warming affects the poorest people of the world most. He cited three factors responsible for recent increased levels of Greenhouse gases — population growth, the science and technology revolution and errant thinking by humans.
To solve the global climate crisis, the United States must take political steps such as agreeing with other nations of the world to decrease carbon emissions, Gore said. He criticized the United States for failing to endorse the Kyoto Protocol, which set forth a plan to reduce Greenhouse gases.
Gore said it is tragic that America is spending money in Iraq that could be utilized to fight the global climate crisis.
“Don’t tell me we can’t solve this climate crisis. If we just had one week’s worth of the money spent on the war in Iraq, we’d be well down the road,” Gore said to an ovation.
America has proved in the past that it has the will to solve a problem as big as global climate crisis, he said. Winning freedom from England, freeing slaves and putting a man on the moon are among the accomplishments demonstrating that political will is all the nation needs to solve great problems, Gore said.
“As Americans, we know that political will is a renewable resource,” he said.
David Roach is pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Ky., and a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.