It’s been more than a year since James Dobson and the old guard of the hard evangelical right tried — and failed — to take out one of the most vocal Christian crusaders against poverty and global warming, Richard Cizik. In fact, just as Dobson and his allies have launched a new campaign supporting “biblical” solutions to global warming, Cizik is planning a September visit to Colorado Springs, home of Dobson’s Focus on the Family.
In March, 2007, Dobson, along with several influential conservative Christian leaders including Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of Coalitions for America and Gary L. Bauer of the group American Values, called on the National Association of Evangelicals to remove Cizik over what they termed a "preoccupation" with global warming.
Specifically, the Dobson faction wanted the 30 million-member organization to stay focused on what they described as "the great moral issues of our time" — abortion, preserving traditional marriage and teaching sexual abstinence before marriage.
Not only is global warming unproven, their letter claimed, but Cizik, the vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, routinely "puts forward his own political opinions as scientific fact." Neither Dobson or any of the other signers of the letter were actually members of the National Association of Evangelicals.
For his part, Cizik — along with the NAE and other Christian leaders with different sensibilities — has for several years taken a leadership role with calls to eradicate global poverty and what he calls "creation care" — that is being good stewards of God’s planet (see related video). He and his like-minded brethren tend to shy away from the term “environmentalism” because of its longtime connotation with liberalism.
In their March, 2007 letter to Cizik’s bosses, Dobson and his supporters cited an interview from the previous June in which Cizik reportedly said, "We [those who are concerned about global warming] are the future, and the old guard is reaching up to grasp its authority back, like a horror movie where a hand comes out of the grave."
To which the Dobson faction responded: "Cizik apparently believes ‘the old guard’, which defends traditional values, is like a rotting corpse that will not die. Are these the words of a man who seeks to bring unity and understanding within the NAE?"
Ultimately the National Association of Evangelicals not only rebuffed Dobson’s efforts to have Cizik removed from his post, but also reaffirmed its 2004 evangelical Christian Health of the Nations position statement that places a high priority on the environment, poverty, overpopulation, and other social issues.
And, the group has made it clear that just because they have tagged global warming as a major threat, it doesn’t mean they have turned into "liberals." In fact, they posted an official statement answering that very question:
Does addressing climate change mean we’re becoming liberals?
No. We believe that creating a better future for our children and grandchildren by fulfilling our biblical call to stewardship and love of neighbor through reducing pollution is simply being a good biblical Christian. Climate change is not a liberal issue. It is a profound problem for people Jesus loves, people Jesus died to save.
Exactly a month ago, on May 15, Dobson, along with supporters ranging from Christian singer Pat Boone to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, and the groups Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, unveiled a new campaign — a clear response to Cizik and other Christian evangelical calls to address global warming.
The campaign — called We Get It! warns against a prevailing culture of "knee-jerk" reactions to climate control, which Dobson et al maintain is not proven to be caused by humans. The campaign includes what they term an "historic statement on [the] environment and poverty" — that is, support for a more "biblical" approach to global warming. Here it is:
The We Get It! Declaration
God Said It
God created everything. He made us in His own image, and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and watch over His creation. Although separated from God by our sin, we are lovingly restored through Jesus Christ, and take responsibility for being good stewards.
We Get It
Our stewardship of creation must be based on Biblical principles and factual evidence. We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming.
They Need It
With billions suffering in poverty, environmental policies must not further oppress the world’s poor by denying them basic needs. Instead, we must help people fulfill their God-given potential as producers and stewards.
Let’s Do It
We will follow our Lord Jesus Christ and honor God as we use and share the principles of His Word to care for the poor and tend His creation.
This September, Cizik is scheduled for a two-day visit to Colorado Springs to address global warming. Related public events, which are being sponsored by the Colorado Springs Independent altweekly, have not yet been finalized.