Maybe that 19th-century Rapture theory is losing favor, or the Rapture Index just isn't apocalyptic enough. (Place yer bets, gentlemen!) But it seems there's a new voice in Evangelical Christiandom.
Instead of the now-tired "God gave us dominion" mantra Evangelicals have offered up to justify wholesale destruction of our air and water in greed-driven pursuit of pre-Rapture riches, some are actually reading other passages in the Bible.
In the latest effort, the National Association of Evangelicals, a nonprofit organization that includes 45,000 churches serving 30 million people across the country, is circulating among its leaders the draft of a policy statement that would encourage lawmakers to pass legislation creating mandatory controls for carbon emissions.
Environmentalists rely on empirical evidence as their rationale for Congressional action, and many evangelicals further believe that protecting the planet from human activities that cause global warming is a values issue that fulfills Biblical teachings asking humans to be good stewards of the earth.
"Genesis 2:15," said Richard Cizik, the association's vice president for governmental affairs, citing a passage that serves as the justification for the effort: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."
"We believe that we have a rightful responsibility for what the Bible itself challenges," Mr. Cizik said. "Working the land and caring for it go hand in hand. That's why I think, and say unapologetically, that we ought to be able to bring to the debate a new voice."
And the Earth trembled beneath the House of Republican.
Or maybe not. Never misunderestimate the human capacity to rationalize rapacious plundering. And never ever
A major obstacle to any measure that would address global warming is Senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and an evangelical himself, but a skeptic of climate change caused by human activities.
Mr. Inhofe has led efforts to keep mandatory controls on greenhouse gases out of any emission reduction bill considered by his committee and has called human activities contributing to global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
"You can always find in Scriptures a passage to misquote for almost anything," Mr. Inhofe said in an interview, dismissing the position of Mr. Cizik's association as "something very strange."
Mr. Inhofe said the vast majority of the nation's evangelical groups would oppose global warming legislation as inconsistent with a conservative agenda that also includes opposition to abortion rights and gay rights. He said the National Evangelical Association had been "led down a liberal path" by environmentalists and others who have convinced the group that issues like poverty and the environment are worth their efforts.
The not-so-subtle message there to Evangelicals: Do you want to "take care of" God's earth? Or do you want to keep your property rights over women and prevent them homosexuals from making you gay?
Because you can't run a faith-based-fear-mongering political strategy without multitudes of devils.
Stay tuned to see if Evangelicals will read other passages in the Bible, such as compassion for the poor, making peace, and mistrust of the money-changers. Jesus was a heretic back then. Just imagine today the reception he'd get from Rush and Michele and Bill and Ann and the rest of the bellowing bellicocracy.
Could it be that Republican policies are inconsistent with Christian values?
Banish that thought! There's an election coming up!