By Alexander Carpenter
The shift on environmental concern among self-described conservative Christians continues.
Environmentalists are often envisioned as tree-hugging, granola-munching types whose politics lean far to the left. But environmental awareness is also spreading into the pews and pulpits of conservative Christian churches. In Evansville and beyond, environmental awareness is starting to
attract more attention among folks who fall far outside the
stereotypical “green” profile. “I think it’s still catching on, especially with the more
conservative Christians,” said Lisa Sideris, assistant professor of
religious studies at Indiana University.
Among conservative Christians, the concept has become stewardship — the responsibility to care for nature because God made it.
“If it’s God’s, I’m going to think twice about messing it up. If
it’s mine, then I’m going to use it as I see fit,” said the Rev. Tom
Wenig, pastor of Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer on Evansville’s East
For his part, Wenig said he believes the earth does face a looming
energy crisis and that human activity is exacerbating if not causing
global warming. He acknowledges that these views aren’t widely held among conservative Christians. A lot of people feel the global warming issue is a propaganda campaign put out by the radical left.”
In response, Wenig cites numerous scriptural references that he believes point toward environmental stewardship.
He cites the story of Noah, in which God instructs Noah to bring animals into the ark to spare them from the flood. This, Wenig said, means that people should care about animals and avoid knowingly contributing to their extinction. “Even if they have no particular human economic value, they have value,” Wenig said. And in John 6:12, Jesus, after he has fed the multitudes with loaves
and fishes, tells his disciples to “gather up the fragments that
remain, so that nothing is lost.” This passage, Wenig believes, means God doesn’t want humans to waste what’s been given to them.
From the current Economist:
The terms of the transaction between faith and ecology vary a lot.
In places like Scandinavia, where religion is weakish, a cleric who
“goes green” may reach a wider audience; in countries like India, where
faith is powerful, spiritual messages touch more hearts than secular
ones do. That doesn’t stop some environmental scientists from saying
they are being hijacked by clerics in search of relevance. But Mary
Evelyn Tucker, of America’s Yale University, says secular greens badly
need their spiritual allies: “Religions provide a cultural integrity, a
spiritual depth and moral force which secular approaches lack.”
Speaking of the environment, faith, and Yale, the divinity school has packed their current issue of Reflections with a plethora of great articles by luminaries in the green faith movement. Oh, and the journal is FREE to order.
And treat your brain to Mary Evelyn Tucker brilliantly discussing the ethics of biocide and geocide from a religious perspective.