Whatever you do today, you have to read this stunning blog entry from the Southern Baptist theologian Russell D. Moore, who just returned from a visit to Biloxi, Miss., his hometown. He calls the Gulf spill the ecological Roe v. Wade for Evangelicals. Excerpt:
As I pass that sign on Highway 90 telling me I’m leaving Biloxi, I can look out behind the water’s horizon and know there’s a Pale Horse there. A massive rupture in the ocean’s floor is gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with plumes of petroleum great enough to threaten to destroy the sea-life there for my lifetime, if not forever. Everything is endangered, from the seafood and tourism industries to the crabs and seagulls on the beach to the churches where I first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is more than a threat to my hometown, and to our neighboring communities. It is a threat to national security greater than most Americans can even contemplate, because so few of them know how dependent they are on the eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico. This is, as one magazine put it recently, Katrina meets Chernobyl.
I am leaving this morning, but I am leaving changed.
For too long, we evangelical Christians have maintained an uneasy ecological conscience. I include myself in this indictment.
We’ve had an inadequate view of human sin.
Because we believe in free markets, we’ve acted as though this means we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and habitats. But a laissez-faire view of government regulation of corporations is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he “believes in young people.”
We’ve seen the issue of so-called “environmental protection” as someone else’s issue.
In our era, the abortion issue is the transcendent moral issue of the day (as segregation was in the last generation, and lynching and slavery before that). Too often, however, we’ve been willing not simply to vote for candidates who will protect unborn human life (as we ought to), but to also in the process adopt their worldviews on every other issue.
You’ve really got to read the whole thing, especially Moore’s Kirkian reflection on how the Gulf oil spill destroys local culture, and how Evangelical indifference to that is a failure of love of neighbor. Moore writes:
As I’ve seen the people I love, who led me to Christ, literally heaving in tears, I’ve wondered how many other communities have faced death like this, while I ignored even the chance to pray. The protection of the creation isn’t just about seagulls and turtles and dolphins.
This conservative Southern Baptist gets it, and he gets it in his marrow. Simply a stunning piece of public theology. Read it, and pass it on to everyone you know. We are witnessing a major cultural shift for American Christians, I believe.