First of all, kudos to those who took the high road this week when commenting on our global warming posts. While there are still occasional exceptions, most of you displayed graciousness and civility, even in disagreement. And if I am not mistaken, I even glimpsed some mild apologies for misunderstandings and mischaracterizations. Maybe we really are learning from one another after all! And I wasn’t the only one to notice:
The best compliment may have come from TTT:
I am not a Christian and some of my beliefs are at odds with what I expect most of the evangelicals in this thread believe. However, I am very happy to see the open and straightforward way in which this issue is being discussed here, and how so far this thread has been almost totally free from projecting evil or dishonest motives onto others–which is typically where Internet discussions go downhill. You have handled it much better than most secular boards I have visited.
In the end, it is refreshing to see that most (if not all) seem to readily concede that the environment IS a matter of concern for Christians, regardless of political leanings. Hopefully this will counter Dobson’s concern that Cizik is not representative of evangelicals in his attention to the environment. Don wrote:
I would argue that caring for creation is part of defending human dignity, care for the poor, and other similar actions. Environmental degradation destroys human dignity and harms the poor more than it does the wealthy.
Your comments also reveal that even if people agree on the diagnosis, there will still be vast differences in how to address the problem. Whether the issue is poverty or the environment, well-meaning Christians differ on solutions. As Elmo concisely states:
Note that there is no one, conservative or otherwise, on this comment page saying we have no responsibility to the environment, the poor, or the oppressed. We all know that we do. We just have different ideas about how to go about it.
(For those interested in the role of government, be sure to check out articles on that topic in the April issue of Sojourners magazine.)
But we mustn’t lose focus on what prompted this week-long debate, namely the letter from Dobson and company criticizing Rich Cizik for his leadership on “creation care.” I think the motivations behind this letter are dubious at best and still require investigation. It is one thing to call for an open debate or discussion on an issue of concern, but it is quite another to call an environmental champion like Cizik “divisive and dangerous” and essentially demand he change or be fired. What is Dobson not telling us? Maybe he fears that his own accusations are true and that he no longer speaks as for all evangelicals as he once did. Christy proposes an appealing alternative to the wording of Dobson’s letter:
I would consider it refreshing and a step toward opening up some of the deep seated fundamentalist narrowmindedness [sic] if Dobson and Falwell and others like them could even bring themselves to say something like: While it is not part of the agenda of Focus on the Family or Liberty University to support issues concerning the environment, we recognize that God has called us to do his work by giving each of us a unique set of gifts and interests. If God has laid a heavy burden on the hearts of our Christian brothers and sisters at the NAE to speak out on the issue of the environment, then we support them with our prayers in that calling.
Bob Francis is the Policy and Organizing Assistant for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.