By Blogger Chuck Redfern
A question for the eco-friendly: Can we see those outreached hands? They’re there, waiting for us, just beyond the fog of our prim, finger-wagging islands.Surveys show that three out of four U.S. voters favor regulating carbon dioxide emissions; some conservatives are reminding their kin of the word, “conserve”; and faith leaders are framing climate change as a moral issue: the first chapters in Genesis call us to nurture the Earth, not destroy it.
Can we schmooze and trade business cards and crack jokes and slap backs and form partnerships? Or will we keep alienating potential collaborators with a brand of green fundamentalism that anathematizes hunters, fishermen, Bible-believers and meat-and-potatoes lovers, driving them into the fold of the Rev. Jack Hibbs, pastor of the Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, Calif.: “Environmentalism is nothing more than a pagan worship system”?
I saw the outreached hands during the week of April 22 at a conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. Matthew Sleeth, an evangelical physician and co-founder of Blessed Earth, spoke during the Sunday service at the National Cathedral, where representatives from several prominent seminaries signed a “stewardship alliance” pledging ecological education. We then walked through the rain to an award lunch for writer and activist Wendell Berry. Author Bill McKibben and NASA scientist James Hanson gave plenary remarks on Monday at nearby Saint Sophia, with breakout sessions offering perspectives from Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalians, Baptists, Jews, as well as scientists and policy makers — and there was Mitch Hescox, CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, freely announcing his GOP affiliation, and Retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson, who organized logistics for General David Petraeus in Afghanistan and saw the military harm of oil-dependence. Anderson echoed his Feb. 3 statements before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, where he praised our chief executive for not approving the Keystone Pipeline: “Frankly, as a political conservative and as a long-time registered Republican, I don’t often agree with President Obama, but on this matter he absolutely got it right. I strongly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline because it will degrade our national security.” The pipeline would only deepen our nation’s addiction to oil and intensify CO2 emissions.