Evangelical Environmentalists Undermine Pro-Life Movement, Again

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About two years ago over 30 of the nation's pro-life leaders issued an official statement against an environmental campaign spearheaded by the Evangelical Environmental Network calling mercury regulations "pro-life."

Instead of correcting its claims, EEN doubled down and expanded them, further obscuring the meaning of "pro-life" and diluting its usefulness to identify people working to end abortion on demand. First they aligned global warming to the "pro-life" cause, and then they expanded the definition of "life" beyond human beings to include caring for all of life.

For EEN and CEO Mitchell C. Hescox, being "pro-life" doesn't simply mean opposing abortion or other actions that intentionally kill human beings. It means opposing any action that some environmentalist thinks creates any risk, however great or small, to any life, human or non-human.

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Pro-life leaders rejected EEN's original labeling of mercury regulations as "pro-life." They said, "As leaders of the pro-life movement, we reject that portrayal as disingenuous and dangerous to our efforts to protect the lives of unborn children." To clarify, they added, "The term pro-life originated historically in the struggle to end abortion on demand and continues to be used in public discourse overwhelmingly in that sense; the life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself." They warned that obscuring the meaning of "pro-life" had the potential to "divide the pro-life vote, and postpone the end of abortion-on-demand in America."

Ignoring the concerns of the pro-life movement, EEN first added the fight against global warming as a "pro-life" cause, despite the fact that multiple studies show that switching from abundant, affordable, reliable fossil fuels to diffuse, expensive, unreliable wind and solar would slow economic growth in the poverty-stricken developing countries. That slowdown would retard growth in jobs and income, which would, in turn, put more lives at risk from poverty's threats than the tiny amount of warming that might be prevented.

Hescox's statement has another, deadly serious, implication. By tying the pro-life label to global warming, Hescox risks putting the science of the start of human life—and with it the whole pro-life claim that abortion kills a human being—on par with the far more murky science of anthropogenic climate change.

That's not just a speculative worry. Anastasia Pantsios, writing in EcoWatch, said, "Hescox's statement that 'the science is settled; it's not even a consensus—it is a unanimity—that human life begins at conception' ignores the fact that there's no consensus at all on when human life begins, let alone 'settled science.'" She can get away with that precisely because she knows Hescox also believes "the science is settled" on global warming, so if he challenges her on life at conception, he leaves himself wide open on global warming, about which even he must admit the science is far more murky.

More recently, EEN expanded the definition of "life" beyond human beings. Hescox wrote, "For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends for His creation. That's why creation care remains integral to being pro-life."

The thousands of brave pro-lifers who "March for Life" in Washington's bitter cold every January are not marching to prevent slight, accidental impairments to a vanishingly small number of people, such as might conceivably be related to American power plants' mercury emissions (or not). They are not even marching to prevent possible accidental death to some people in floods or hurricanes that, theoretically, might be related to global warming (or not). And certainly they're not marching to prevent either death or impairment to Delta Smelt or Northern Spotted Owls or even Polar Bears, no matter how cute and cuddly they might appear in videos.

Instead, they're marching to prevent the killing of human beings, intentionally, in their mothers' wombs . . . some three to four thousand every day in the United States of Abortion. That's more than 2 every minute, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Those marchers probably don't even know that some professedly pro-life evangelicals are, intentionally or shortsightedly, undermining the pro-life cause in the name of "global warming" and "creation care."

The evangelical Left has tried since the 1970s to tie pacifism and opposition to the death penalty to the pro-life cause, dubbing its position "completely pro-life." Apparently it hopes the public won't differentiate between an innocent child in the womb and a soldier in combat, or between the barbarism of cruelly and unjustly killing the child in the womb and justly executing the murderer on death row.

But these latest developments are more breathtaking. Now we're being asked to expand the meaning of "pro-life" beyond the protection of human beings to the protection of all forms of life on earth. Would they have us believe that being good stewards of the earth calls for us to turn back farmland to wilderness so raccoons and sparrows can become more plentiful while humans starve?

Don't misunderstand. When the Bible instructs mankind to subdue and rule the earth and all living things in it (Genesis 1:28), it doesn't mean to abuse or waste any of it, but to enhance its fruitfulness, beauty, and safety, to the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbors.

But there is a moral difference between human beings and all other living things: only humans are the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). And there is a moral difference between intentional, unjustified killing ("You shall not murder," Exodus 20:13) and accidental killing (Deuteronomy 19:4–6), the just execution of murderers (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12; Numbers 35:30–31; Romans 13:4), or the conduct of just warfare (Deuteronomy 20). And of course it follows that there is a moral difference between protecting human beings from murder and protecting any other living creatures from death, whether intentional or unintentional.

Protecting human beings from intentional, unjustified killing is what the pro-life movement is all about. EEN's attempt to claim the pro-life label for its creation-care activities does exactly what pro-life leaders warned it would do: It obscures the meaning of "pro-life," divides the pro-life movement, and undermines the effort to elect truly pro-life candidates to public office in the quest to end abortion-on-demand in America.

Let EEN convince people to embrace its environmental causes on their own merits. But let's hear no more about equating environmental issues with the pro-life cause. They are not the same.

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