evangelicals join global warming fight
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - U.S. scientists and
evangelical Christian leaders joined forces on Wednesday
to protect the environment from the ravages of global
warming, calling on President George W. Bush and others in
power to help.
"We believe that the protection of life on Earth is a
profound moral imperative," the new coalition said in a
statement sent to Bush, the leaders of the House and
Senate, and potential presidential candidates including
Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack
Obama of Illinois and Senator John McCain, an Arizona
"We agree not only that reckless human activity has
imperiled the Earth -- especially the unsustainable and
short-sighted lifestyles and public policies or our own
nation -- but also that we share a profound moral
obligation to work together to call our nation, and other
nations, to the kind of dramatic change urgently required
in our day," the group said.
The group was organized by the National Association of
Evangelicals, which has led an environmental Christian
movement in the United States, and the Center for Health
and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
Bush is expected to offer a policy change on global
warming in next Tuesday's State of the Union address, but
the White House has discounted reports of a major shift.
Sources familiar with Bush's plans have said he is likely
to call for a big increase in U.S. ethanol use and tweak
policy on climate change.
The president, long a skeptic on the human causes of
global warming, acknowledged last year that human
activities spur the phenomenon that has been blamed for
more severe storms, rising seas, worse brushfires and
In last year's speech, Bush said the U.S. addiction to
foreign oil was a serious problem.
American evangelicals have a tradition of social
conservatism and helped Bush win the presidency, but in
recent years have embraced such issues as the environment,
the push for an end to the conflict in Darfur and the
fight against worldwide poverty.
Dr. Eric Chivian of Harvard and Rev. Richard Cizik of
the evangelical association announced the coalition and
its "urgent call to action" at a news conference, held six
weeks after a scientists and Christian religious leaders
gathered in Georgia to discuss global climate change.
"There is no such thing as a Republican or Democrat, a
liberal or conservative, a religious or secular
environment," Chivian told reporters.
"Scientists and evangelicals share a deep moral
commitment to preserve this precious gift we have all been
One hurdle was agreeing on a way to talk about the
environment. The evangelicals called it creation, and the
scientists "quickly became comfortable with the term,"
said Jim McCarthy, a biological oceanographer at Harvard.
The group plans to craft a "pastor's toolkit" including
biblical references to the need for humans to protect the
environment, said Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland
Church in Orlando, Florida.