Rev. DeVries is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church in Wingham, Ontario, Canada.
“Global Warming” and a Green Gospel
A poll released in February 2006 shows that seventy percent of American evangelical Christians see global warming as a “serious threat” to the future of the planet. According to a report by World NetDaily.com, this survey, conducted by Ellison Research, indicates a majority of evangelicals agree with eighty-six Christian leaders who signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI): Climate Change a Call to Action, which was unveiled on February 8, 2006. The ECI calls for government action to deal with so-called global warming and includes a campaign of newspaper, TV, and radio ads.
The purpose of the initiative is to “encourage action by evangelical Christians and all Americans to make life changes necessary to help solve the global warming crisis, and to advance legislation that will limit emissions, while respecting economic and business concerns.” Those who signed the ECI include, among others, Rick Warren, pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rich Stearns, president of World Vision, Commissioner Todd Bassett, national commander of The Salvation Army, and David Neff, executive editor ofChristianity Today.
The cover article of Christian Renewal, March 22, 2006, by Peter C. Glover, sounds a much-needed word of caution regarding this initiative. Glover writes in his article, “Hot and Cold on Global Warning”:
But there is need for caution—not least because the initiative (signed by a group of 86 evangelical leaders in the USA) was seed-funded by a leading international abortion group.
Those behind the ECI were given $475,000 by the William and Flora Hewitt Foundation, one of the top funders of abortion programmes worldwide, in an apparent effort to mobilize Evangelical Christian support against global warming.
The discovery was made by the Concerned Women for America (CWA), a group that rightly questions the political motives and moral authority of those behind ECI….
…The CWA’s revelation comes hard on the heels of another devastating critique of the claims of the ECI document. Iain Murray, a senior fellow at the US Competitive Enterprise Institute, has written a paper entitled “Beware False Prophets: On the dangers of ignoring the harmful effects of reducing carbon emissions” (National Review Online, 9.2.2006). He takes up the ECI’s four claims, beginning with its foundational one that “Human-induced climate change is real.” He writes: “This is true as a simple statement, but the evidence the group proposes for it is weak and its meaning far from clear. The group claims that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ‘documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last fifty years.’
“This is not the case. The earth actually cooled between 1942 and 1980. The earth has warmed steadily over the last 25 years and the evidence from satellites is not consistent with the idea that global warming is actually global.”…
…The ECI document further claims that IPCC has “attributed most of the warming to human activities.” In fact the IPCC actually said it was “likely to have been mostly due to greenhouse gases”—but added a caveat that they could not be sure. As Murray says, more recent evidence tends to show this as a less likely scenario.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are also produced naturally and burning fossil fuel contributes only about 3% of total emissions.
It becomes increasingly clear that the ECI document may well have entirely misread the IPCC’s findings. Murray shows how claim 2—that “the consequences of climate change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest”—is meaningless in the absence of any degree of certainty over claim 1….
…In other words,” says Murray, ” we can do more to help the poor by combating their problems now than we would by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There is a terrible… cost to drastic action to reduce climate change and that cost would likely weigh heavier on the world’s poor than the effects of global warming itself.”
Such “costs” include holding back developing economies and restricting trade with third world countries — both of which would keep people in poverty in the name of environmental conservation.
Murray’s conclusion is biting. “Evangelical leaders need to give more thought to the unintended consequences of their well-intentioned acts. By devoting spiritual and temporal energy to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, they will probably hurt the poor more than help them.
says, ‘Beware of false prophets, which come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’… By adopting a green agenda, the Evangelicals may have thrown the poor to those wolves.”
As much as we might wish it, modern science does not have all the answers. Consequently, science and the media can all too easily translate science-faith into science-fact—and motivate the well-intentioned to put their faith into action for all the wrong reasons.
Tom Bethell, author of The Politically- Incorrect Guide to Science, observes, “We are strongly inclined to substitute faith for uncertainty.” As regards the highly controversial science surrounding “climate change” there are far too many willing to sign up to what may well turn out to be a new religion—simply peddling their own science-faith as science-fact. When you consider that climatologists cannot say with certainty what the weather will be like next week, it’s odd that so many should be so certain what it will be like in 100 years time.”
Columnist Cal Thomas puts it well, “If evangelicals make the environment another ’cause,’ they are likely to be as frustrated and disappointed as when they exercised misplaced faith in politics to cure other social evils. Should they desire a real effect on the planet, let them return to the eternal message that has been given them to share with a world that needs it now more than ever.”
Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm: Polygamy in The Spotlight
Strange as it may, or may not, seem “polygamy” has increasingly been in the headlines in recent months. Exhibit 1: In an article entitled, “Pandora and Polygamy,” Charles Krauthammer writes, for JewishWorld Review.com on March 17, 2006, “With the sweetly titled HBO series ‘Big Love,’ polygamy comes out of the closet. Under the headline ‘Polygamists, Unite!’ Newsweekinforms us of ‘polygamy activists emerging in the wake of the gay-marriage movement.’ Says one evangelical Christian big lover: ‘Polygamy rights is the next civil-rights battle.’ Polygamy used to be stereotyped as the province of secretive Mormons, primitive Africans and profligate Arabs. With ‘Big Love’ it moves to suburbia as a mere alternative lifestyle. As Newsweek notes, these stirrings for the mainstreaming of polygamy (or, more accurately, polyamory) have their roots in the increasing legitimization of gay marriage.”
Exhibit 2: Stanley Kurtz writes in The Weekly Standard, on December 26, 2005, under the title, “Here Comes the Brides—Plural Marriage is Waiting in the Wings”:
On September 23, 2005, the 46- year-old Victor de Bruijn and his 31-year-old wife of eight years, Bianca, presented themselves to a notary public in the small Dutch border town of Roosendaal. And they brought a friend. Dressed in wedding clothes, Victor and Bianca de Bruijn were formally united with a bridally bedecked Mirjam Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they’d met several years previously through an Internet chatroom. As the notary validated a samenlevingscontract, or “cohabitation contract,” the three exchanged rings, held a wedding feast, and departed for their honeymoon.
When Mirjam Geven first met Victor and Bianca de Bruijn, she was married. Yet after several meetings between Mirjam, her then-husband, and the De Bruijns, Mirjam left her spouse and moved in with Victor and Bianca. The threesome bought a bigger bed, while Mirjam and her husband divorced. Although neither Mirjam nor Bianca had a prior relationship with a woman, each had believed for years that she was bisexual. Victor, who describes himself as “100 percent heterosexual,” attributes the trio’s success to his wives’ bisexuality, which he says has the effect of preventing jealousy….
… News of the Dutch three-way wedding filtered into the United States through a September 26 report by Paul Belien, on his Brussels Journal website. The story spread through the conservative side of the Internet like wildfire, raising a chorus of “I told you so’s” from bloggers who’d long warned of a slippery slope from gay marriage to polygamy.
Exhibit 3: Here in Canada a major headline inThe Record, newspaper for Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, was “End Ban on Polygamy: Study” (January 13, 2006). The article by Canadian Press reports:
A new study for the federal Justice Department says Canada should get rid of its law banning polygamy, and change other legislation to help women and children living in such multiple-spouse relationships.
“Criminalization does not address the harms associated with valid foreign polygamous marriages and plural unions, in particular the harms to women,” says the report, obtained by Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
“The report therefore recommends that this provision be repealed.”
The research paper is part of a controversial $150,000 polygamy project, launched a year ago and paid for by the Justice Department and Status of Women Canada.
The paper by three law professors at Queen’s University in Kingston argues that Section 293 of the Criminal Code banning polygamy serves no useful purpose and in any case is rarely prosecuted.
Instead, Canadian laws should be changed to better accommodate the problems of women in polygamous marriages, providing them clearer spousal support and inheritance rights….
…Chief author Martha Bailey says criminalizing polygamy, typically a marriage involving one man and several wives, serves no good purpose and prosecutions could do damage to the women and children in such relationships.
“Why criminalize the behaviour?” she said in an interview. “We don’t criminalize adultery.
“In light of the fact that we have a fairly permissive society… why are we singling out that particular form of behaviour for criminalization?”
Instead, there are other laws available to deal with problems often associated with polygamous unions, which are not legally recognized as marriages in Canada….
…The Justice Department project was prompted in part by an RCMP investigation into the religious community of Bountiful in Creston, B.C., where polygamy is practiced openly.
But the project was also intended to provide the Liberal government with ammunition to help defend its same-sex marriage bill last spring.
Opponents claimed the law was a slippery slope that would open the door to polygamy and even bestiality.
Focus on the Family Canada, which has been working hard to promote traditional marriage in Canada, is not surprised that the institution is under further assault. “There is little comfort in saying ‘I told you so,'” said Focus on the Family Canada senior vice president Derek Rogusky. “However, whenever anyone raised polygamy as an issue in the debate over the definition of marriage, they were quickly accused of being a fearmongerer and out of touch. Now we have three professors from Queens University with a government-funded study telling us that polygamy should be legal in Canada, too. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come as a shock because the supporters of polygamy are advancing the very same arguments that allowed marriage to be redefined in the first place.”
Exhibit 4: In the United States the president of the American Civil Liberties Union says polygamy is among “the fundamental rights” that her organization will continue to defend,WorldNetDaily reported in June, 2005. During a question-and-answer session after a speech at Yale University, ACLU president Nadine Strossen stated that her organization has “defended the right of individuals to engage in polygamy,” reported AgapePress, noting that the comments cited by the Yale Daily Newsreceived little attention.
Here in Canada, the handwriting may be upon the wall. “If past is prologue,” the Ottawa Sunpredicted, “the matter will find its way to the country’s top court for decision and the Supremes will rule once and for all whether we can walk down the aisle arm-in-arm-in-arm-in-arm. Talk about changing the traditional definition of marriage.”