Over 40 evangelical leaders are encouraging President-elect Donald Trump to stick by his appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency despite liberals' claims that Pruitt is a climate change "denialist."
After Trump selected Pruitt to be his nominee to head the EPA on Dec. 7, the decision received much backlash from left-leaning media outlets and liberal clergy who argued that Pruitt, an evangelical Christian and deacon at the First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is a climate change denier and his leadership would be detrimental to the agency's purpose.
After a group of Episcopal bishops in Massachusetts signed onto a joint letter expressing their "dismay" with his selection of Pruitt to head the EPA, the evangelical leaders sent Trump their own letter signaling their support for Pruitt on Friday.
The letter asserted that Pruitt is qualified to lead the EPA, even though he has a history of battling the EPA over its tough regulations, and called on the U.S. Senate to confirm the nomination.
The joint letter was an effort spearheaded by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
The letter was signed by prominent evangelicals such as California-based Pastor Greg Laurie, leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines, former SBC presidents Ronnie Floyd, James Merritt and Jack Graham, and Southern Theological Seminary President Dr. Richard Land.
"We are evangelical Christians who are committed to a proper stewardship of all creation, driven by our knowledge that 'the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof,' [Psalm 24:1]," reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Christian Post.
"A very great stewardship is invested in the Environmental Protection Agency, and thus in its Administrator. We support the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt. We do not deny the existence of climate change nor the urgency of this concern," the letter continues. "We affirm an ongoing debate on the proper balance between the unleashing of human enterprise and the protection of creation. We call for justice, righteousness, and compassion in every dimension of our national life, including our government."
Additionally, the leaders "reject any ideology that sees human beings as a blight upon the planet and would harm human flourishing by restricting or preventing the rightful use and enjoyment of creation."
The letter asserts that "Pruitt has been misrepresented as denying 'settled science,' when he has actually called for a continuing debate. This is in the very best tradition of science."
In their attacks on Pruitt, liberal media outlets have highlighted an op-ed that Pruitt co-wrote back in May with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange published by the National Review.
The op-ed served as a strong critique against liberals who are trying to stifle the debate on climate change by claiming it to be settled science. The piece pointed out that "scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."
The argument that Strange and Pruitt were making in their op-ed was more about the freedom of speech aspect that "debate should be encouraged in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress" over humanity's impact on climate change, not to suggest that climate change realities don't not exist.
"It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution," the op-ed states. "Dissent is not a crime."
In addition to the op-ed, liberals don't like that fact that Pruitt has filed several lawsuits against EPA regulations that he argues overstep the agency's constitutional authority.
In an interview with Baptist Press, Mohler explained that Pruitt "does not deny that there is a human impact on the climate."
"He doesn't deny what's called now the reality of global warming or of climate change," Mohler said. "He says that the debate is not settled and the degree and the extent of global warming is not yet fully known."
Moore assured BP that Pruitt is "a magnificent Christian leader."
"I've known and worked with him since the beginning of his time on the board at Southern Seminary," Moore explained. "Since then we've worked together on numerous issues of religious freedom and liberty of conscience. He has always modeled integrity and excellence, and I look forward to seeing his leadership at the EPA."