Holy War

The battle (over global warming) between competing conservative evangelical camps is one to watch in 2011. It’s been brewing for years. In 2005, Richard Cizik, who was then the political lobbyist for the conservative-leaning National Association of Evangelicals, and talking up the notion of environmental stewardship to its 30 million members, found himself in the cross hairs of a prominent Republican politician. Cizik was steaming when I interviewed him for a story I was writing at the time:

For four weeks in a row the senior senator [James Inhofe] from Oklahoma has chosen to refer to me by name, as part of “˜the liberal, enviro whackos who are sidling up to pro-abortionists and pantheists.’ I can only suspect that he feels threatened by our [the NAE’s] advocacy. But he hardly needs to go ballistic against us, because we are hardly his enemies. We are his conservative friends, fellow pro-Bush Republicans.

A few years later, Cizik was ousted from his NAE position after making conciliatory remarks on gay rights issues. As one commentator noted at the time:

His sacking looks like a victory for the old guard, but I think it reveals more about the sclerotic nature of American fundamentalism. The smarter evangelicals, who hope to become the next generation of national leaders, know that to attract young people they must embrace the environment as a moral cause, and dial back on the homophobia. Cizik was on the right side in both these battles, and the churches that follow his lead will be the ones who grow.

And in fact, the “creation care” movement that Cizik helped to advance has continued to grow and attract support from younger evangelicals. As the Times’ Green blog reported earlier this week, this has sparked a furious counter-response from one group representing the retrograde fire-and-brimstone Religious Right, which

released a 12-part educational video series, “Resisting the Green Dragon,” warning Christians that radical environmentalism “is striving to put America, and the world, under its destructive control.”

This blowback reminds me of something else Cizik said in my 2005 story:

Those who want to discredit us will smear us with being left-wing environmentalists.

Cizik knows well the movement he grew up in. His evolution–and the generational shift in that movement–presents an existential threat to the old guard he was once part of.

17 Responses to “Holy War”

  1. Same Ordinary Fool says:

    Before young evangelicals and young Republicans wake up and respond to their respective leaders, young people generally will have to begin questioning where their grandparents are taking them.

  2. Dean says:

    “Cizik was on the right side in both these battles, and the churches that follow his lead will be the ones who grow.”
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t religion generally about the word of god, truth as they see it, and faith? As opposed to taking the position that will result in growth? That’s what politicians do. I’m not supporting the position of those who take a religious hard line. I hope their flocks don’t grow. But I’ve always wondered about it when religions change their canon to appease modernity or changing attitudes. Flexible religion seems to be an oxymoron.

  3. I am not conservative politically nor religiously, but I agree with Dr. E. Calvin Beisner: There is no valid scientific basis for the claim that manmade CO2 caused global warming.
    See: “Earth’s Heat Source – The Sun” [Energy & Environment, volume 20 (2009) pages 131-144]
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  4. GFW says:

    Oliver, that paper is hilarious.  You’re either a brilliant satirist who is playing a joke on E&E, or you’re a crank on the order of the folks who propose deterministic alternatives to quantum mechanics.

  5. Tim Lambert says:

    GFW: Oliver thinks that the sun is made of iron.

  6. Please examine the data for yourself.
    The top of the Sun’s atmosphere is mostly Hydrogen (91%) and Helium (9%) because the Sun sorts atoms by mass and these are the two lightest elements [1].
    Although I am not conservative – religiously nor politically – my co-authors include right-wingers, left-wingers, and centrists.
    1. “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by masss,” Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69, 1847-1856 (Nov 2006) http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0609509
    2. “Strange xenon, extinct super-heavy elements, and the solar neutrino puzzle”, Science 195, 208-209 (14 January 1977)
    3. “Isotopes of tellurium, xenon and krypton in Allende meteorite retain record of nucleosynthesis,” Nature 277, 615 ““ 620 (22 February 1979)
    Cal Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance have a better grasp on the basic principles than the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK Royal Society, the editors of Nature, Science, PNAS, and the UN’s IPCC.
    Oliver K. Manuel

  7. Pascvaks says:

    Issues and positions can be the spark that start a “fight” but let’s face it, politically it’s all about the mud and the blood and the beer.  A fight is a fight is a fight… It may seem important, or NOT, but it’s nothing but a fight.

  8. Artifex says:

    Dean says:
    Flexible religion seems to be an oxymoron.

    I would whole heartedly disagree. In fact I would take the tact that any form of true-beliver philosophy MUST be exceedingly flexible. At some point, some worldly action is going to cast a bit of doubt on your belief-system. Your tried and true means of rationalization better be ready or you leave the movement at that point. If one has superb rationalizing skills, one can believe some truly breathtaking things before giving up the core beliefs. Both Malthusians and Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to predict the end of the world every ten to twenty years or so, and they both still seem to have plenty of followers. It takes an extraordinarily flexible belief system to say the world will end in 1914 and 144,000 chosen are going to heaven and keep believing when 1915 comes.

    Now, I am not an evangelical, but it is easy to guess at possible rationalizations that might be going on. My guess is the internal dialog runs something like this:

    “I know with 100% certainty that my view of what is religiously important is right. Younger believers and those whom I could potentially convince are not choosing to follow my doctrine. Because I know I am right, the fault must lie in the presentation of my doctrine. Further, we see the well funded forces of academia and big secular humanism attempting to mislead those who are impressionable with coordinated and unfounded attacks based on deliberate misinterpretations of my doctrine. Obviously, I need a more directed message and some dedicated campus crusaders to get my obviously true point across. What is important here is the message that Jesus died for your sins and you are saved. We need to emphasize that this core belief is not at odds with the modern world. Flexibility is required to reach out with the important information which is that salvation is achievable.”

    Electricity is not the most powerful force in the universe … rationalization is.

  9. Jack Hughes says:

    You’ve just written a good description of the AGW-religion. The hard-core faithful can soldier on oblivious to events in the outside world.
    Of course this time round we really, really do have only 100 days to save the planet 🙂 No I’m serious this time.

  10. J Bowers says:

    With Roy Spencer and Ross McKitrick having vowed to fight efforts to curb global warming via the Cornwall Alliance/Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (co2science.org) turning out to be a non-profit which is NTEE categorised under “Religion, Spiritual Development / (Christian)”, and the Cornwall Alliance effectively asserting that “greenies” are the anti-Christ (the Green Dragon), I think you’re right that 2011 may well turn out to be an interesting one in this regard, Keith.

  11. intrepid_wanders says:

    Tim Lambert:  Where do you think the other planets got their iron?  Comets?  Aliens?  Which element is the easiest for a star to create over time?
    On topic, I do believe that the Left Wing Environmentalist (GP, WWF, etc) have indeed created their own religion.  Where Cizik thought he was going, he was out-done by the NGO’s on the AGW crusade (aka “Churches”).  They are all the same incarnation of the same control mechanism.  Way would kings and chiefs of old always have a religious caste nearby?
    What EVERY religious system will ALWAYS teach is MODERATION.  Even if it is moderation of MODERATION.  Environmentalist wanted it all NOW.  It is the ONLY RIGHT thing to do.  This is where CULTS will be pushed aside.  Many new recruits will respond to the call, and will tout the persecution, but will always be a cult until they stop the holy text thumping (or IPCC AR 2007).
    While I do not subscribe to the philosophies of Dr. Manuel or Cizik, I find their words enlightening.  They are not entirely wrong (unlike other theories).  I bet if you ask Dr. Manuel if his theory is falsifiable or a hypothesis, he would let you know what these conditions would be.  Try that with a cult.

  12. J Bowers says:

    Re. 11 intrepid_wanders — “On topic, I do believe that the Left Wing Environmentalist (GP, WWF, etc) have indeed created their own religion. Where Cizik thought he was going, he was out-done by the NGO’s on the AGW crusade (aka “Churches”).”
    So tell us how many religions want their particular deity (or particular  supernatural belief) to actually not exist; to be completely undesirable? In order to justify your opinion you must do so, because I dare say any “warmist” wants that god to not even be plausible. Sadly, objective science tells us otherwise.
    But if reality is now a religion, hell, let’s pray I say.

  13. HugeDifference says:

    ” In order to justify your opinion you must do so, because I dare say any “warmist” wants that god to not even be plausible. Sadly, objective science tells us otherwise.
    But if reality is now a religion, hell, let’s pray I say.”

    Yeah, I’m not so sure of that.

    I get a huge whiff of the old doom and gloom end of earth retribution is upon us original sin from many of the warmists I read.

    The science is settled, global warming is here, hurricanes, ice ages, fire and brimstone are now being cast down upon us, blood, frogs, disease, famine, repent now and accept your carbon tax, sacrifice, tithe.  Live your life in poverty, chastity, and obedience to the new priesthood who will interpret the word of god for you — Questions are not appreciated.

  14. intrepid_wanders says:

    Re. 12 J Bowers – I dare say any “warmist” wants that god to not even be plausible.

    My general observation of history indicates that no matter how much people wish to rationalize away “the gods”, these deities persist and will always remain in our curses.  These tenancies of re-inventing a new religion goes down the same basic format.  Point to a “noun” that is causing misery or destruction to the world, then crusade against the “noun”.  I found the French Revolution a good example for the secular/intellectual press on political cults (Like the “Libertarianism” following the Fox Christian Network).

    Enthusiasm (root word is quite interesting) is exactly what is distorting the reality of the day.

  15. I agree with the intrepid_wanders
    Closed-minded, dogmatic scientists and closed-minded, dogmatic religionists are the reason many people believe that religion and science are opponents in the search for truth.
    Both have been impediments in my 50 year search to understand the origin of the solar system and the Sun’s source of energy:
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  16. J Bowers says:

    Re. 13: Highly unconvincing.
    Re. 14: I suspect other matters are an impediment to your research.

  17. J Bowers says:

    Comments have been renumbered since my last post. So…
    Re. HugeDifference: Well done for concentrating on a single sentence and ignoring the rest of what I posted.
    Re. intrepid_wanderer: Ditto. Highly unconvincing.
    Re. Oliver K Manuel: I suspect other matters are an impediment to your research.

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