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Democrats, evangelicals team up on global warmingcomment (0)

July 20, 2006


A fledgling alliance of Democrats and evangelical Christians is attempting to tackle global warming, motivated by the recent release of two documentaries on the subject, a solid scientific consensus and a growing concern over “creation care.”

The Canadian documentary “The Great Warming,” narrated by pop singer Alanis Morissette and actor Keanu Reeves, got a screening in a cramped room on Capitol Hill before about 40 people June 28.

In the audience were several House Democrats, the director of the Sierra Club’s global warming initiative and the president of an evangelical school in New York City.

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., spearheaded a discussion after the movie, prodding the group for ways to broaden a faith-based dialogue on global warming. “Why are politicians so far behind evangelicals on this?” Inslee asked.

“The evangelical community is more alert than (politicians) realize,” said Paul de Vries, president of the New York Divinity School and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals. “The Great Warming,” which was first released in 2003 as a TV miniseries, has been reworked into a feature film similar to Al Gore’s box-office success, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Where Gore’s film uses large graphs to illustrate some of its points, “The Great Warming” jumps from New Hampshire to Inner Mongolia in search of people who are changing their lifestyles to combat global warming. The documentary features Richard Cizik, a vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, as one of its interviewees.
Experts agree there is still conflict among evangelicals in general over how high a priority to place on global warming. “You cannot by any stretch of the imagination claim that there is any kind of uniform view on this within the evangelical community,” said Joseph Loconte, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative Washington think tank.

De Vries and Cizik are among more than 80 evangelical leaders who have spoken out on the need to address global warming. They have found open ears at the Democratic Party’s congressional Faith Working Group. De Vries stressed that for him, the issue transcends political boundaries; he has talked about it with Republicans like Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Because there is less unity among evangelicals on global warming — at least compared with hot-button issues like gay “marriage” or genocide in Sudan — Loconte said the group lacks the cohesion to lobby its traditional ally: the Republican Party.

“The Democratic side is more engaged on the global warming question on the agenda right now,” Loconte said.
Advocates like de Vries and Cizik justify their position by highlighting what they see as humanity’s role in being stewards of God’s creation.

If people pollute the earth and tarnish God’s creation, then it is their responsibility to clean it up and restore it, de Vries has said. But other leaders within the evangelical community, like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, worry that beating the drum on global warming is distracting members from its other priorities.

“We serve one Lord, not one issue,” de Vries said, pointing to other topics many evangelicals are concerned about, like abortion and same-sex “marriage.” “Those are still very important issues, but life is bigger.” (RNS)

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