My friend Harry Applin, who blogs on engineering, architecture, and climate change, passed on this news item about an apparently conservative evangelical group, the Institute on Religion and Democracy (I say “apparently” because I am not familiar with IRD or its policies) who last month slammed the American Episcopal (Anglican) Church for its views on climate change.

THe IRD’s President, Mark Tooley, is quoted by the blog Right Wing Watch attacking a December 2010 meeting of an Episcopal group on climate change:

“These particular Episcopal global warming fear-mongers came from the north and the south and the east and the west, as though in fulfillment of the biblical end times. Or more specifically, they came from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the U.S., including the bishops of California, who no doubt would be piously loath to miss any global warming guilt-fest.

“We have lost a sense of connection with the world, and have become dominators rather than ‘good gardeners;’ over-developed countries have given themselves over to the sin of consumerism,” a fretful statement by the group intoned. “This sin, as sin always does, has clouded and distorted all our relationships: between people, with the Earth, and with our creator God.” The Religious Left sometimes, a little pantheistically, likes to speak of “relationships” with inanimate objects, like “the Earth.” For them, sometimes “the Earth” displaces a higher authority whom believers better merits a “relationship.”

The Episcopal group met around the theme of “climate justice” December 7 – 10, 2010 in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic at the Bishop Kellogg Retreat Center, intentionally overlapping with the United Nations’ climate change meeting in Mexico. For the Religious Left, the UN carries almost transcendent authority, though perhaps not so much as “the Earth.”

I’d never heard the phrase “Green Dragon” before, and other than the fact that Green is the current liturgical colour for Epiphany, I’m not sure it fits. Anglicans, who are generally fond of St. George, aren’t big dragon fans, green or otherwise. Seriously, as I wrote back to Harry, there’s a lot of undercurrents in Tooley’s remarks as I understand them.

The Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC) has alienated most evangelicals, and strained relations within the Anglican Communion, for its stance on same-sex marriage and for its consecration of two openly gay and lesbian bishops, so it is already suspect to people like Tooley as a Christian church. Tooley’s linkage of TEC to the UN is also interesting, given the evangelical fear of shadowy, non-Christian, even demonic world governments that can be seen on the shelves of many Christian bookstores. The broad banner of the environmental movement, which attracts New Agers, Gaians, Wiccans, and other non-Christians, is evidently alarming to many evangelical Christians. I can readily imagine how certain churches which take a millenarian view, expecting an imminent second coming and passing away of the earth, might be less than compelled by environmentalists’ calls to preserve the earth as the only home that humanity has.

I’m a little defensive of the Anglican Church, even my ultra-trendy, liberal friends in TEC, and while I don’t agree with their official stand on sexual ethics, I think they do Christianity a favour by challenging us to think about the stewardship vs dominion debate over our relationship to the created earth. I would be grieved if concern over the fate of the earth was shouted down as un-Christian by my fellow believers, and I think we all have some serious reading, thinking and talking to do in the days and years to come over the fate of the planet that God gave to us.

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