20 October 2006

Green Evangelism

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
— Genesis 1:28

Word on the street is God is pro-environment. Who knew?

Apparently, Bill Moyers did. In the first of a series of Grist articles, Moyers was interviewed regarding his new PBS special Is God Green?. In one of the interview's choicest statements, Moyers said:
The next film I do should be about how environmentalists view religion ...

The fact of the matter is, progressive Christians and mainstream churches and the environmental movement have had a lot in common for some time now. It's the conservative evangelicals who have been, and I use this word advisedly, brainwashed by the political right and the political right's religious allies.

The James Dobsons, the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells have demonized environmentalism as the work of Satan or Hollywood wackos or treehuggers. Orwell was right: you can change the language until you change behavior. By demonizing good, serious, sincere environmentalists, the political right and its religious allies were able to make it impossible for people in the pews, people in the churches, people in the local congregations to hear environmentalists.

Whoa. These sentiments echo a "debate" I had recently on the cvillenews blog about Phillabaum's ELF arson plea. [ELF = Earth Liberation Front] I call it a "debate" because the position of nearly everyone was that "Yes, Virginia, extremists do get lots of media attention and thereby benefit moderates by making them seem, well, moderate." The only difference of opinion was actually whether such attention-grabbing behavior thus served some Greater Good.

To get back to Moyers's purported next topic, this environmentalist views religion in a very different way than most. As the evangelists fear, I am indeed a pagan. I don't practice or preach my religion. I live it, and part of my manifestation of my religion is my environmental work and advocacy. Contrary to evangel opinion, I've met extremely few other pagans doing the kind of hands-on, community-minded, politically active environmental work that I do. In fact, I left public worship within the "pagan community" precisely because they weren't putting their energy where their beliefs were. I have found a lot more satisfying friendships, acquaintances, and working colleagues among the Christians in the eco-field than I do from any other religious group.

As an active treehugger, I'm pleased to see the green wave hit more moderate and conservative Christians. Perhaps it will lead to a better interfaith understanding.

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