WASHINGTON (BP)–Through a new “We Get It!” campaign, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity is partnering with other organizations to demonstrate that evangelical Christians support what they describe as a more biblical, fact-based approach to global warming.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) was among the supporting organizations introduced at a May 15 news conference in Washington to unveil the campaign — an effort to gain the endorsement of a million evangelicals to a brief document that espouses biblical responsibility for the environment and the poor.
The effort, spearheaded by the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, serves as a further response to the efforts of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. ECI contends that human beings are the primary cause of global warming, which it says will have the greatest impact on those in poverty. ECI has endorsed legislation to decrease carbon dioxide emissions in an attempt to combat climate change.
Cornwall and its partners in the We Get It! campaign assert that the science is unclear on the cause of such climate change. They repeated at the news conference their concern that some proposals based on unfounded conclusions will have especially negative effects on the poor.
The We Get It! declaration reads:
— God Said It: “God created everything. He made us in His own image, and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and watch over His creation. Although separated from God by our sin, we are lovingly restored through Jesus Christ, and take responsibility for being good stewards.”
— We Get It: “Our stewardship of creation must be based on Biblical principles and factual evidence. We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming.”
— They Need It: “With billions suffering in poverty, environmental policies must not further oppress the world’s poor by denying them basic needs. Instead, we must help people fulfill their God-given potential as producers and stewards.”
— Let’s Do It: “We will follow our Lord Jesus Christ and honor God as we use and share the principles of His Word to care for the poor and tend His creation.”
Calvin Beisner, the Cornwall Alliance’s national spokesman, said at the news conference, “[W]e’re here to say evangelicals as a whole, evangelicals even as a significant part, have not suddenly embraced manmade, catastrophic, global warming alarmism.”
ERLC President Richard Land commended the new declaration in a written statement released at the news conference, saying it “has a high view of man, a Biblical view of stewardship, and a responsible regard for the needs of the poor. Rejecting ill-conceived calls for drastic action in response to poorly understood, hypothetical risks, the Campaign emphasizes the need for sound environmental policies that help the poor instead of hurting them.”
Barrett Duke, ERLC vice president for public policy and research, said at the news conference, “We’re not anti-earth,” and noted, “This is God’s creation. We have a responsibility to care for it and to do all that we can to help it be the place that God wants it to be.
“We cannot sacrifice the needs of those who are the most needy among us in order to reach some kind of standard that may or may not be appropriate or even reachable,” he told reporters. “I mean if humans aren’t causing the problem, it doesn’t matter how much we reduce CO2 emissions; it won’t make any difference.
“If we go to some programs that will make even food more expensive, we’re simply going to increase the hardship that the poor and vulnerable in this country and around the world are already experiencing,” Duke said. “It certainly is an unbiblical response to how we have a responsibility to help care for and meet the needs” of the poor.
Land and Duke signed on to a March 17 letter with more than 70 others asking all 100 United States senators to oppose a bill that would require cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The America’s Climate Security Act, S. 2191, already has been approved by a committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate in June.
The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I.-Conn., and John Warner, R.-Va., would establish a cap on emissions and allow a trading system among companies and other organizations, permitting those that produce more emissions to purchase credits from those producing fewer.
In addition to Land, other Southern Baptist signers of the We Get It! declaration listed online include Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., also has signed, Duke told reporters.
At the news conference, Duke read portions of a resolution adopted at the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2007 annual meeting in San Antonio. That resolution affirmed Southern Baptists’ responsibility to protect the environment. It also called for government policies that strike a balance among environmental stewardship, economic effects and care for the poor most likely to be affected by such decisions, while urging caution in the debate over humanity’s role in global warming.
Other endorsers of the new declaration include Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright, Phoenix Seminary professor Wayne Grudem and singer Pat Boone, as well as Republican U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, both of Oklahoma, and GOP Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia. Coburn and Broun are members of Southern Baptist churches.
Other partners with the ERLC and Cornwall on We Get It! are the Family Research Council, Institute on Religion and Democracy, Wallbuilders and Action Institute.
Talk radio host Janet Parshall said of the initiative, “[W]e are not interested in causing splintering or division among Christians. What we are looking for is clarity of thought, singleness of purpose and real biblical compassion.”
The declaration may be found online at www.wegetit.org.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.