You can almost hear the desperation creeping into James Dobson’s voice. His attacks on Rich Cizik (and all the other millions of evangelicals working on creation care) are ludicrous. There is not a “heated controversy throughout the world” about whether global warming is real. Instead, worldwide, there’s melting ice, gathering storms, and spreading disease. The U.N. estimates that climate change will produce 150 million environmental refugees by mid-century. And very few of them will have done anything to cause the problem – while we in the U.S. produce a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide. Jerry Falwell talks about the need to preach the gospel. Well, the “love your neighbor” part isn’t going so well at the moment. It’s more like “drown your neighbor” right now.
Here’s the really sad part: this is one of those moments for which the church was born. It will be hard for society to make the changes it needs to make, but our churches can actually remember some reason for human existence other than accumulation. They can summon up the love, hope, and faith necessary to take difficult steps in the years ahead. And it’s starting to happen: at Stepitup07.org, we’ve been hearing from faith communities across the religious spectrum, who are organizing rallies for April 14 to demand real carbon reductions.
Dobson, Falwell, and their ilk are the voice of a Christianity so deeply compromised by its embrace of American materialism that it needs to treat as a threat our brothers and sisters in Christ who come bearing the news of physics and chemistry. Rich Cizik has been faithful in reading the signs of the times, and so it is unsurprising he is under attack. But one way or another, his moral clarity will prevail.
Bill McKibben wrote the first book for a general audience about global warming, The End of Nature, way back in 1989. His new book is Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future .