WASHINGTON – While it may seem like everyone believes in global warming and the impending catastrophe it will bring, a group of conservative Christians countered that message Thursday by launching a national campaign to gather one million signatures for a statement that says Christians must not believe in all the hype about global warming.
The "We Get It!" declaration, which currently has nearly 100 signers, is backed by prominent Christians including Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, award-winning radio host Janet Parshall, and U.S. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
What supporters of the statement seek is to inform Christians about the biblical perspective on the environment and the poor, and to encourage them to look at the hard evidence, which they say does not support the devastating degree of climate change claimed by mainstream society.
"How can you create policies on uncertain science?" asked Dr. Barrett Duke, vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
"How can you say what it is that needs to be done when you don't really know and you don't really have real consensus on the state of the problem or what is causing the problem?"
Duke called it an "unbiblical" response to make policies based on unsettled data that would push the poor further into starvation and poverty.
But the SBC leader made sure to clarify that he and other signers are not "anti-earth."
"It isn't as though we think that the earth is here to be abused. It is not," he said. "It is God's creation and we have a responsibility to care for it and to do all that we can to help it be the place that God wants it to be."
Yet at the same time, policies should not be made to sacrifice the needs of the most needy in order to "reach some kind of standard" that may not even be reachable, Duke argued.
"If humans are not causing the problem then it doesn't matter how much we reduce CO2 emissions. It won't make any difference," he said.
Fellow signer Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, also talked about the harmful effects of popular climate change policies that call for a cap on carbon emission.
"The number of premature deaths, number of diseases, and the harm to the human economy that can be predicted from the policies used to fight the warming" is more destructive than even if all the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)-predicted global warming-caused disasters came true, Beisner said emotionally to The Christian Post.
"You try to cap emissions and you kill more people than die if you don't cap emissions," Beisner said, referring to those who would die from lack of access to energy, higher food prices, and the halt in their country's economic development.
"We will have killed people," he added solemnly. "We care about this issue the same way why we care about abortion. It kills people."
Several of the speakers at Thursday's press event accused the green movement – that blames humans for the impending global warming disasters – of being driven by emotions and "fear-mongering."
"We believe this is being driven by emotions, emotions that will lead to decisions that will lead to negative consequences that will create tremendous harm not only to American families but impoverished families all around the globe," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and former vice chairman of the Environmental committee in Louisiana.
Signers of the declaration said while they do acknowledge, in varying degrees, that global warming is real and humans are partly to blame for the earth's warming, they believe that for the most part the heating of the earth is due to the natural warming and cooling cycle of the planet.
The "We Get It!" view starkly contrasts that of the IPCC and some prominent green evangelicals who believe that scientific evidence strongly supports that global warming is a serious crisis and man-induced.
The IPCC report last year – which is said to be the clearest and most comprehensive statement to date on the impact of global warming mainly caused by man-induced carbon dioxide pollution – warns that 30 percent of the Earth's species are at risk of extinction, up to 250 million people are likely to experience water shortage, and stronger and more frequent natural disasters are expected in the near future.
The Rev. Richard Cizik, head of the Office of Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, has been the face of the green evangelical movement. He has visited churches and Christian college students nationwide to give seminars on the detrimental effects of global warming and what Christians need to do to help.
Last year, he also joined forces with the scientific community to urge the U.S. government to pass a carbon emission law and for churches and individuals to minimize unnecessary energy usage.
"If you are for the sanctity of life and ignore the health impact of the environment on the unborn, I think that is a limited understanding of how everything is connected in life," Cizik, who was among Time magazine's most influential people in the world this year for his environmental protection efforts, said earlier.
"You can't separate either these principles like taking care of the earth and the sanctity of life – they overlap," the NAE leader contended. "So to say you are pro-life but to ignore what is occurring to the unborn from environmental degradation is an abomination."
To Cizik and others in the green evangelical movement, creation care is a more holistic understanding of the evangelical pro-life stance.
Supporters of the "We Get It!" campaign would readily agree with Cizik that creation care is important, but they strongly disagree with him on the severity of global warming and the policies to address the problem.
Opponents of the popular global warming view say that until all scientists can agree that global warming is as severe as some claim and that it is mainly human-induced, they are against any policies that would raise energy costs because they would put the lives of millions in jeopardy based on uncertain or debatable scientific evidence.
Beisner on Thursday offered a proposal that both sides could agree on – more widespread use of nuclear energy. He said despite disagreements on the position of manmade global warming, nuclear energy is a feasible solution because there is already adequate technology to support it, it is extremely safe, and is price competitive with petroleum, coal and other sources of energy to produce electricity.
But at the end, the campaign organizers admitted to facing difficulties in how they will get their message out to younger evangelicals, who seem convinced that global warming is real and mainly human-induced.
Beisner said his organization is starting to connect with Christian colleges to give seminar presentations on their view of the environment to students.
Meanwhile, FRC's Perkins said the campaign needs to find common ground with young evangelicals by focusing on what the Bible says about the environment and the poor.
"We are going to be engaging young evangelicals to view this through the lens of Scripture first and then let's make our plans second," Perkins said.
According to the "We Get It!" campaign, Christians need to start by believing that God is creator of all things and that humans are the pinnacle of God's creation. As a result, humans are responsible for looking out for the environment, but first and foremost for their fellow man, which is the jewel of God's creation.
Well-known radio host Janet Parshall, a mother of four young evangelicals, shared that she is particularly concerned about getting the issue out to the younger generation.
"That is exactly why we have the 'We Get It!' campaign," Parshall said, "because they didn't get it."
"We are afraid that a lot of the young people in that demographic are marching to the tune of a political agenda masqueraded as sound science. So what we really want to do is make sure that they get it, that they get sound science," she said.
The "We Get It!" campaign has begun a national outreach to pastors, people in the pews, African-American and Hispanic church leaders, youth, artists, homeschoolers, evangelical scientists, congressional and state policy-makers, and other Christian leaders in their effort to gather one million signatures for their declaration on the environment and poverty.
On the Web: http://www.WeGetIt.org