Christian Living

healthenews 05/08/09

The Poor and the Environment: We Get It?

A friend suggested I take a look at the We Get It! website -- a group trying to balance environmental stewardship and caring for the poor by applying Biblical standards.

A number of well-respected evangelicals have taken up this cause:

Richard Land, who heads the ethics commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, notes that less than a third of evangelicals believe global warming is a major problem. Land says, " It's time to set the record straight, and the ‘We Get It!’ campaign is just what's needed. It has a high view of man, a Biblical view of stewardship, and a responsible regard for the needs of the poor." 

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is also backing this effort, “A couple of years ago, when a small group of evangelicals took it upon themselves to speak for all the rest of us on global warming, I was, frankly, upset. I knew they didn't speak for me. Based on years of research, I also knew they didn't speak for sound science and economics."

Land and Inhofe, without naming names, are referring to the Evangelical Climate Initiative.  That came out in 2006 and the current website states, "Now is the time for followers of Christ to help solve the global warming crisis. There is overwhelming evidence that human activity is a major cause, and we know that the impacts of climate change would be hardest on the poor and vulnerable, and on future generations."

Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College, was one of the signatories to that effort. Quoted in the New York Times back then, Litfin said, "We have not paid as much attention to climate change as we should, and that's why I'm willing to step up. The evangelical community is quite capable of having some blind spots, and my take is this has fallen into that category." Rick Warren was the most well known of those who signed. 

So we have a wide difference of opinion -- at least about the specifics of climate change. It's more than fair to say there is agreement about taking care of the environment and helping the poor to thrive. But the difference in views on the facts can make a huge difference in the policy outcome for the poor. The church needs to be discussing this in depth so that we don't waste our efforts on faulty facts or foundations. That's good stewardship.





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