The New Climate Coalition
Environmentally concerned evangelicals, including megachurch pastors, Christian college presidents, and theologians, announced their support February 8 for a major effort to combat global warming.
During a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington organized by the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), a new coalition called the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) released a statement signed by more than 85 evangelical leaders.
The statement, Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, says "human-induced climate change is real," and calls on the U.S. government to pass legislation establishing limits on carbon dioxide emissionswidely believed to be the primary cause of human-induced global warming.
"Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors," the statement reads. "Christians must care about climate change, because we love God the Creator and Jesus our Lord, through whom and for whom the creation was made. This is God's world, and any damage that we do to God's world is an offense against God himself."
Organizer Jim Ball, executive director of EEN, the group known for its 2002 "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign, stressed the importance of the statement's theological message.
"This is not a political statement being made," Ball told CT. "We are trying to be faithful to the lordship of Christ. It's my commitment to Christ that's driving me. He's said: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Global warming is going to affect millions in this century, and we feel we just can't stand by. We have to do something about it."
Among the signatories: bestselling Purpose-Driven Life author and pastor Rick Warren, World Vision president Rich Stearns, Salvation Army national commander Todd Bassett, Christianity Today editor David Neff and executive editor Timothy George, Wheaton College president Duane Litfin, and former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president Leith Anderson.
Litfin told CT that some evangelicals have "probably had some bind spots" in responding to environmental issues such as global warming. He said he hoped his involvement would "raise the profile of this issue within the evangelical world."
"I just want to see us more carefully trying to think through: What are the Christian's responsibilities to God's creation? I'm not sure we've fulfilled that stewardship very well, as a nation or as individuals. We can do a better job."
The effort involves a "close to half a million-dollar" ad and publicity campaign beginning with full-page ads in Roll Call and The New York Times on February 9, Ball said. The campaign will follow with a tv spot on Fox News, radio spots on Salem Radio Network, and an ad in Christianity Today.
Ball said the group is also planning tv ads on local channels "targeting some specific, traditional states" such as Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Dakota"areas where we know there is good evangelical interest and concern," in order to further boost support for global warming legislation.
Funding for the ad campaign comes from a $500,000 grant the group recently received from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Ball told CT. During the press conference Ball said charitable groups such as the Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Pew Charitable Trusts have also contributed.
Evangelical Climate Initiative supporters kicked off the day with a breakfast meeting with Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. Last year Lieberman and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., cosponsored a bill designed to create a "cap and trade" system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That bill died in the Senate.