As I type this, I am looking out at the Gulf of Mexico. You could have seen a similar sight out the window of the hospital where I was born, just a few miles down the road here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Now, though, those waters I grew up with, gently lapping against the sand, are threatening to bring with them millions of gallons of oil spewing up from an exploded rig out in the Gulf. Five years after Hurricane Katrina leveled this hometown of mine, it is bracing for the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States.
Some conservatives, and some conservative evangelicals, act as though "environmentalism" is by definition "liberal" or even just downright silly. Witness a lot of the evangelical rhetoric across social media on Earth Day a while back: mostly Al Gore jokes and wisecracks about cutting down trees or eating endangered species as a means of celebration.
Do some environmentalists reject the dignity of humanity? Yes. Do some substitute reverence for creation for that due the Creator? Of course. This happens in the same way some give reverence to economic profit or any other finite thing.
There's nothing conservative, though, and nothing "evangelical," about dismissing the conservation of the natural environment. And the accelerating Gulf crisis reminds us of what's at stake.
The incoming tsunami of oil isn't just about the beaches, although that will be environmentally and economically catastrophic. Just as problematic is the creeping of the oil into inland estuaries and marshes and waterways. The crisis could potentially destroy the ecosystems of birds, shrimp, oysters, and other life forms.
Does God care about baby shrimp? I would argue, yes; God cares for the sparrow that falls to the ground ...1
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