Amid polarized debate on climate
change, Southern Baptists' lead ethicist has called conservative evangelicals
and secular environmentalists to cooperate on issues of creation care.
"I could prompt a
cascade of 'Amens' in a sermon -- or retweets on a Twitter feed -- by noting
that our legal system protects darter snails but not unborn humans,"
Russell D. Moore wrote in the latest issue of the Journal of the Evangelical
Theological Society. "A secular environmentalist could evoke cheers on
'The Daily Show' by lampooning conservative Christians for claiming to be
'pro-life' while ignoring toxins in the atmosphere that produce birth defects
or spontaneous abortions. These are appeals to the conscience, but they are
rarely a conversation from one conscience to the other so much as they are
self-reinforcing 'red meat' (or, I guess, 'green leaf' as the case might be)
for the already-convinced bases."
Yet "as those in the
environmentalist activist community and those in the evangelical Christian
community find themselves up close and personal together, we can learn some
things from one another, and learn some things together," Moore, president
of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote.
Like feminists and
evangelicals have joined forces to combat pornography and human trafficking,
environmentalists and evangelicals should work together to emphasize proper
stewardship of the earth, Moore said in an interview with Baptist Press.
Followers of Jesus must
listen "to our neighbors, including those who are environmentalists, in
order to provide a Christian perspective on caring for the creation,"
He acknowledged that
evangelicals and secular environmentalists disagree in many instances on
"huge global" issues like climate change. But such disagreement does
not preclude cooperation to confront "local" problems like air and
water pollution, proper land use and preserving natural resources for the next
generation, he said.
"Climate change is an
issue," Moore said. "But I think that defining the issue [of environmental
protection] solely in terms of climate change undercuts the means that we have
to address [other] issues, which will have to happen at the level of
consciences formed to care about the creation around them."
In his journal article,
Moore outlined three tenets of a balanced theology of the environment and
pointed out common ground among evangelicals and environmentalists related to