Sierra Club Propaganda Campaign an Affront to Religion

Sierra Club Propaganda Campaign an Affront to Religion
October 19, 2006

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

Masquerading as devout worshipers of God whose true goal is to bring us closer to our Creator, the Sierra Club on October 18 launched a deceitful and religiously offensive campaign to politicize churches with their environmental extremism.

As political propaganda for a soon-to-be-released global warming scare film, the Sierra Club trotted out left-wing religious "leaders" masquerading as evangelicals who tell us that anybody who does not buy into the environmental extremism of the Sierra Club is sinning against God.

True Religious Leaders?

In promoting a "religious" angle to its upcoming alarmist movie, the Sierra Club Web site quotes Rev. Richard Cizik, who prides himself on showing up for anti-abortion rallies with placards claiming (falsely) that mercury emissions are the true threat to unborn babies, saying that "to deplete our resources … is an offense against God." "That's what the Scriptures say," Cizik emphasizes without quoting any Scripture.

It is "the leadership of the Republican party ... that has not shown the leadership it should on environmental issues," Cizik adds. He apparently would elevate extremely left-leaning Congressmen such as Barney Frank and Barbara Boxer to a more superior moral and religious platform than President George W. Bush, a born-again Christian.

Then there's Gerald Durley, who the Sierra Club wants us to know is also against global warming. Durley's church, according to the World Wide Religious News, arranges out-of-state marriages for girls as young as 14 and has been investigated by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services over allegations of systematic child abuse at the church. According to Durley's statement on the Sierra Club Web site, the utilization of fossil fuels--which have been instrumental to the improvement of human welfare and human life spans during the past century--"fuels our greedy need and malicious overuse of precious resources."

Not a Religious Issue

Forgetting for a moment the ulterior motives and questionable judgment of these religious "leaders," let's examine the science of climate variance, and whether or not it is a religious issue.

If, as Cizik and Durley appear to argue, using fossil fuels is a sin against God, then how do they get to and from church, how do they get to the grocery store, how does Cizik travel to anti-abortion rallies with his environmental extremist placards, and how does Durley send his young girls out of state to be married? Do they restrict themselves to bicycles? Do they go everywhere in horse-and-buggy?

Perhaps they are asserting that utilizing fossil fuels is sinful if done in a manner that destroys God's creation; a far more tenable position. But its application to the global warming debate depends on several assumptions: (1) that the planet is warming, (2) that man is the cause, (3) that such warming is, unlike other warming periods in the Earth's history, destructive to life, and (4) that curtailing fossil-fuel consumption is the best way to address the alleged problem. Indeed, if any of the above premises prove to be false, then there is no scientific or religious reason to be a global warming alarmist.

But these presuppositions are actually questions of science rather than religion. The Sierra Club religious "leaders" are no more qualified to answer these questions than any other lay person.

Benefiting Life on Earth

What does the science tell us? Science tells us that deserts are shrinking, crop production is increasing, forests are expanding, and the Earth is a greener place than it was even a few decades ago. Science tells us that if current temperature trends continue, the Earth will be a mere 1.2 to 1.7 degrees Celsius warmer a century from now than it is today, likely benefitting life on Earth still further. Scientists expect sea levels to rise no more than one foot or so during the next century. And even the New York Times has admitted human-induced "global warming" has likely kept the Earth from slipping back into a prolonged ice age.

Scripture is notably silent on the issue of global warming and fossil fuels consumption. This is very clearly more a question of science and politics than religion. Religious "leaders" are completely out of line when they cheapen religion by using it as moral leverage to achieve their own political goals.


James M. Taylor (taylor@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and teaches Sunday school at his evangelical Baptist church.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)