The Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Noah’s Ark of species protection, has rescued many of God’s creatures from the brink of extinction and has helped restore populations of majestic creatures such as the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the humpback whale. The ESA has been more than 99 percent successful in preventing extinctions saving listed species from extinction. The Act currently protects over 1,800 endangered plant and animal species — all unique and valuable parts of God’s grand theater of creation.
Sadly, the President and his Administration recently finalized changes that strike at the very heart of the ESA. As a Christian and a long-time advocate for the protection of creation, I deeply grieve and am greatly troubled by this attempt to disregard the preservation of God’s endangered creatures.
Acting on my Christian faith, I have for decades worked to defend the ESA from threats. My passion for this stems from the calling all Christians share to avad (serve) and shamar (keep) the earth on behalf of God. While the first chapter of the book of Genesis proclaims God as Creator of all things, the first two chapters taken together make it very clear that human beings are made to image God’s love of the very things God created. As imagers of God’s love we are appointed to serve (avad) and keep (shamar) what God loves; and we are appointed to keep with vital integrity all of God’s creatures (Genesis 2:15). As we pray that the Lord will keep (shamar) us, we are appointed by God to keep (shamar) God’s creatures and their fruitful lineages.
The Endangered Species Act is a crucial, landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming support by every U.S. Senator, 92-0, and by 394 (out of 398) U.S. Representatives. It has been and continues to be our nation’s most effective tool for saving living creatures in danger of extinction. The Administration’s efforts to weaken this Act ignores its remarkable success and popularity. It brings into view my statement that in 1996 went across the nation and around the world, “The Endangered Species Act is OUR Noah’s Ark: Congress and special interests are trying to sink it!” The ESA has helped us as U.S. citizens to recover some of our most beloved and fascinating animals such as whooping cranes, brown pelicans, Channel Island foxes, and the symbol of our nation, bald eagles.
The regulatory changes recently finalized by the Trump Administration and spearheaded by Interior Secretary Bernhardt, a former oil and gas industry lobbyist, represent an unprecedented threat to our ability to preserve the lineages of God’s endangered creatures. These changes allow financial considerations to overwhelm our biblical appointment “to serve and to keep.” They remove critical automatic protections for “threatened” species and put roadblocks in the way of protecting God’s creatures which are threatened by climate change. As a result, we now face the prospect of completely cutting off the longstanding lineages of the California condor, leatherback sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, the hellbender, and the West Indian Manatee. Extinction does not mean simply killing a creature; it means preventing a species from having a place in creation in the future.
In 1996 I asked the Congress: To whom do you answer? To the President? To the Speaker of the House? Or, to the Creator of the Universe? And now the time has come once again to hear and heed the warning: The ESA is OUR Noah’s Ark: Our Leaders and Special Interests are trying to sink it!
I urge Members of Congress to step in and protect at-risk animals and their habitats by defending the ESA.