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02-03-2005, 03:58 PM #1
Moyers on the religious right and the environment (nsr/long)
There Is No Tomorrow
By Bill Moyers
The Star Tribune
Sunday 30 January 2005
One of the biggest changes in politics in my
lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal.
It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of
power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the
first time in our history, ideology and theology hold
a monopoly of power in Washington.
Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven
true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite
being contradicted by what is generally accepted as
reality. When ideology and theology couple, their
offspring are not always bad but they are always
blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians
alike, oblivious to the facts.
Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first
secretary of the interior? My favorite online
environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist,
reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S.
Congress that protecting natural resources was
unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus
Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last
tree is felled, Christ will come back."
Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't
know what he was talking about. But James Watt was
serious. So were his compatriots out across the
country. They are the people who believe the Bible is
literally true - one-third of the American electorate,
if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past
election several million good and decent citizens went
to the polls believing in the rapture index.
That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you
will find that the best-selling books in America today
are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written
by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right
warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe
to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th
century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took
disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a
narrative that has captivated the imagination of
millions of Americans.
Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the
British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant
dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding
to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the
rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the
antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown
in the valley of Armageddon.
As the Jews who have not been converted are burned,
the messiah will return for the rapture. True
believers will be lifted out of their clothes and
transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right
hand of God, they will watch their political and
religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores,
locusts and frogs during the several years of
tribulation that follow.
I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the
literature. I've reported on these people, following
some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are
sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel
called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of
biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared
solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and
backed up their support with money and volunteers.
It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up
act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four
angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates
will be released to slay the third part of man." A war
with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be
feared but welcomed - an essential conflagration on
the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it,
the rapture index stood at 144 - just one point below
the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow,
the son of God will return, the righteous will enter
Heaven and sinners will be condemned to eternal
So what does this mean for public policy and the
environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of
reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer - "The Road
to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see
how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe
that environmental destruction is not only to be
disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as
a sign of the coming apocalypse.
As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a
handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden
to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before
the recent election - 231 legislators in total and
more since the election - are backed by the religious
Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th
Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings
from the three most influential Christian right
advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,
Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy
Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert
and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to
score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was
Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from
the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The
days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send
a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the
And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002
Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans
believe that the prophecies found in the book of
Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter
think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive
across the country with your radio tuned to the more
than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel
turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you
can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will
come to understand why people under the spell of such
potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts
it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about
the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and
pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of
the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about
global climate change when you and yours will be
rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting
from oil to solar when the same God who performed the
miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few
billion barrels of light crude with a word?"
Because these people believe that until Christ does
return, the Lord will provide. One of their texts is a
high school history book, "America's Providential
History." You'll find there these words: "The secular
or socialist has a limited-resource mentality and
views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up
so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he
Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited
and that there is no shortage of resources in God's
earth ... while many secularists view the world as
overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the
earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to
accommodate all of the people."
No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House
whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian
Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers
on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse
a powerful driving force in modern American politics.
It is hard for the journalist to report a story like
this with any credibility. So let me put it on a
personal level. I myself don't know how to be in this
world without expecting a confident future and getting
up every morning to do what I can to bring it about.
So I have always been an optimist. Now, however, I
think of my friend on Wall Street whom I once
asked: "What do you think of the market?"I'm
optimistic," he answered. "Then why do you look so
worried?" And he answered: "Because I am not sure my
optimism is justified."
I'm not, either. Once upon a time I agreed with Eric
Chivian and the Center for Health and the Global
Environment that people will protect the natural
environment when they realize its importance to their
health and to the health and lives of their children.
Now I am not so sure. It's not that I don't want to
believe that - it's just that I read the news and
connect the dots.
02-03-2005, 04:01 PM #2
I read that the administrator of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has declared the
election a mandate for President Bush on the
environment. This for an administration:
That wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean
Water Act and the Endangered Species Act protecting
rare plant and animal species and their habitats, as
well as the National Environmental Policy Act, which
requires the government to judge beforehand whether
actions might damage natural resources.
That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone;
eliminate vehicle tailpipe inspections, and ease
pollution standards for cars, sport-utility vehicles
and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.
That wants a new international audit law to allow
corporations to keep certain information about
environmental problems secret from the public.
That wants to drop all its new-source review suits
against polluting, coal-fired power plants and weaken
consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies.
That wants to open the Arctic [National] Wildlife
Refuge to drilling and increase drilling in Padre
Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of
undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last
great coastal wild land in America.
I read the news just this week and learned how the
Environmental Protection Agency had planned to spend
$9 million - $2 million of it from the
administration's friends at the American Chemistry
Council - to pay poor families to continue to use
pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been
linked to neurological damage in children, but instead
of ordering an end to their use, the government and
the industry were going to offer the families $970
each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing,
to serve as guinea pigs for the study.
I read all this in the news.
I read the news just last night and learned that the
administration's friends at the International Policy
Network, which is supported by Exxon Mobil and others
of like mind, have issued a new report that climate
change is "a myth, sea levels are not rising" [and]
scientists who believe catastrophe is possible are "an
I not only read the news but the fine print of the
recent appropriations bill passed by Congress, with
the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to
it: a clause removing all endangered species
protections from pesticides; language prohibiting
judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of
environmental review for grazing permits on public
lands; a rider pressed by developers to weaken
protection for crucial habitats in California.
I read all this and look up at the pictures on my
desk, next to the computer - pictures of my
grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me
from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us,
for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped
short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know
what we are doing. We are stealing their future.
Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."
And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care?
Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our
capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain
indignation at injustice?
What has happened to our moral imagination?
On the heath Lear asks Gloucester: "How do you see
the world?" And Gloucester, who is blind, answers: "I
see it feelingly.'"
I see it feelingly.
The news is not good these days. I can tell you,
though, that as a journalist I know the news is never
the end of the story. The news can be the truth that
sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the
future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote
to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to
those faces looking back at me from those photographs
on my desk. What we need is what the ancient
Israelites called hochma - the science of the heart
... the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if
the future depended on you.
Believe me, it does.
Bill Moyers was host until recently of the weekly
public affairs series "NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS.
This article is adapted from AlterNet, where it first
appeared. The text is taken from Moyers' remarks upon
receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from
the Center for Health and the Global Environment at
Harvard Medical School.
02-03-2005, 07:46 PM #3
Scary shit, man. Religious brainwashing has fucked up too many people."There is a hell of a huge difference between skiing as a sport- or even as a lifestyle- and skiing as an industry"
Hunter S. Thompson, 1970 (RIP)
02-03-2005, 07:54 PM #4
The fundies laugh at our view of the world, described as "the reality based world" by a bush cabinet aide in ron suskind's recent article in the NYT. Reality doesn't really matter to them. Why would it when Jesus will take care of everything?
02-03-2005, 09:36 PM #5
Moyer's absolutely RULES!
02-03-2005, 09:54 PM #6These meaasge boards suck
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Moyer's not getting taken to Heaven when Jesus comes back next week, I can tell you that right now.
Last edited by AKA; 01-19-2011 at 07:11 AM.
02-04-2005, 07:37 PM #7
Most people think
great God will come from the sky
take away everything
and make everbody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
you will look for yours on earth
The Rapture index is up to 154, round up the chillun's and find a good seat folks!
02-05-2005, 06:01 PM #8
I'd put off reading this article for awhile because it was so long. Scary, scary shit. The patients are truly running the asylum.
I'll be forwarding this one to my freinds and family."These are crazy times Mr Hatter, crazy times. Crazy like Buddha! Muwahaha!"
02-05-2005, 10:31 PM #9Hand built by robots
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A different perspective...
Evangelicals go for the green
Christian right turns, sometimes warily, to environmentalism
SEATTLE - Thanks to the Rev. Leroy Hedman, the parishioners at Georgetown Gospel Chapel take their baptismal waters cold. The preacher has unplugged the electricity-guzzling heater in the immersion baptism tank behind his pulpit. He has also installed energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs throughout the church and has placed water barrels beneath its gutter pipes — using runoff to irrigate the congregation's all-organic gardens.
Such "creation care" should be at the heart of evangelical life, Hedman says, along with condemning abortion, protecting family and loving Jesus. He uses the term "creation care" because, he says, it does not annoy conservative Christians for whom the word "environmentalism" connotes liberals, secularists and Democrats.
Going for the green
"It's amazing to me that evangelicals haven't gone quicker for the green," Hedman said. "But as creation care spreads, evangelicals will demand different behavior from politicians. The Republicans should not take us for granted."
There is growing evidence — in polling and in public statements of church leaders — that evangelicals are beginning to go for the green. Despite wariness toward mainstream environmental groups, a growing number of evangelicals view stewardship of the environment as a responsibility mandated by God in the Bible.
"The environment is a values issue," said the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals. "There are significant and compelling theological reasons why it should be a banner issue for the Christian right."
In October, the association's leaders adopted an "Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" that, for the first time, emphasized every Christian's duty to care for the planet and the role of government in safeguarding a sustainable environment.
"We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part," said the statement, which has been distributed to 50,000 member churches. "Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation."
Growing political issue
Signatories included highly visible, opinion-swaying evangelical leaders such as Haggard, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Some of the signatories are to meet in March in Washington to develop a position on global warming, which could place them at odds with the policies of the Bush administration, according to Richard Cizik, the association's vice president for governmental affairs.
Also last fall, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, weighed in for the first time on global warming. It said that "Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps towards changes that protect our environment."
The magazine came out in favor of a global warming bill — sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) — that the Bush administration opposed and the Republican-controlled Senate defeated.
Polling has found a strengthening consensus among evangelicals for strict environmental rules, even if they cost jobs and higher prices, said John C. Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. In 2000, about 45 percent of evangelicals supported strict environmental regulations, according to Green's polling. That jumped to 52 percent last year.
"It has changed slowly, but it has changed," Green said. "There is now a lot of ferment out there."
Such ferment matters because evangelicals are politically active. Nearly four out of five white evangelical Christians voted last year for President Bush, constituting more than a third of all votes cast for him, according to the Pew Research Center. The analysis found that the political clout of evangelicals has increased as their cohesiveness in backing the Republican Party has grown. Republicans outnumber Democrats within the group by more than 2 to 1.
There is little to suggest in recent elections that environmental concerns influenced the evangelical vote — indeed, many members of Congress who receive 100 percent approval ratings from Christian advocacy groups get failing grades from environmental groups. But the latest statements and polls have caught the eye of established environmental organizations.
Several are attempting to make alliances with the Christian right on specific issues, such as global warming and the presence of mercury and other dangerous toxins in the blood of newborn children.
After the election last fall, leaders of the country's major environmental groups spent an entire day at a meeting in Washington trying to figure out how to talk to evangelicals, according to Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. For decades, he said, environmentalists have failed to make that connection.
"There is a lot of suspicion," said Schweiger, who describes himself as a conservationist and a person of faith. "There are a lot of questions about what are our real intentions."
Green said the evangelicals' deep suspicion about environmentalists has theological roots.
"While evangelicals are open to being good stewards of God's creation, they believe people should only worship God, not creation," Green said. "This may sound like splitting hairs. But evangelicals don't see it that way. Their stereotype of environmentalists would be Druids who worship trees."
Another reason that evangelicals are suspicious of environmental groups is cultural and has its origins in how conservative Christians view themselves in American society, according to the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network. The group made its name with the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign against gas-guzzling cars but recently shifted its focus to reducing global warming.
"Evangelicals feel besieged by the culture at large," Ball said. "They don't know many environmentalists, but they have the idea they are pretty weird — with strange liberal, pantheist views."
02-05-2005, 10:32 PM #10Hand built by robots
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Ball said that the way to bring large numbers of evangelicals on board as political players in environmental issues is to make persuasive arguments that, for instance, tie problems of global warming and mercury pollution to family health and the health of unborn children. He adds that evangelicals themselves — not such groups as the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth, with their liberal Democratic baggage — are the only ones who can do the persuading.
"Environmental groups are always going to be viewed in a wary fashion," Ball said. "They just don't have a good enough feel for the evangelical community. There are landmines from the past, and they will hit them without knowing it."
Even for green activists within the evangelical movement, there are landmines. One faction in the movement, called dispensationalism, argues that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation.
James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: "God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." The enduring appeal of End Time musings among evangelicals is reflected in the phenomenal success of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic potboilers, which have sold more than 60 million copies and are the best-selling novels in the country.
Haggard, the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, concedes that this thinking "is a problem that I do have to address regularly in talking to the common man on the street. I tell them to live your life as if Jesus is coming back tomorrow, but plan your life as if he is not coming back in your lifetime. I also tell them that the authors of the Left Behind books have life insurance policies."
This argument is apparently resonating. Green said the notion that an imminent Judgment Day absolves people of environmental responsibility is now a "fringe" belief.
Unusual weather phenomena, such as the four hurricanes that battered Florida last year and the melting of the glaciers around the world, have captured the attention of evangelicals and made many more willing to listen to scientific warnings about the dangers of global warming, Haggard said.
Pro-life, pro-earth messages mingle
At the same time, activists such as Ball from the Evangelical Environmental Network are trying to show how the most important hot-button issue of the Christian right — abortion and the survival of the unborn — has a green dimension.
"Stop Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn," said a banner that Ball carried in last month's antiabortion march in Washington. Holding up the other end of the banner was Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals' chief lobbyist.
They handed out carefully footnoted papers that cited federal government studies showing that 1 in 6 babies is born with harmful levels of mercury. The fliers urged Christians not to support the "Clear Skies" act, a Bush administration proposal to regulate coal-burning power plants that are a primary source of mercury pollution.
Although Cizik carried the banner and handed out literature that implicitly criticized Bush's policy on regulating mercury, he conceded that many evangelicals find it difficult to criticize the president.
"It is hard to oppose him when he has the moral authority of the office of the president and a record of standing with us on moral issues like abortion," Cizik said.
In Seattle, Hedman says that evangelicals should worry less about the moral authority of the president and more about their biblical obligation to care for Earth.
"The Earth is God's body," Hedman said in a recent sermon. "God wants us to look after it."
02-05-2005, 10:47 PM #11Hand built by robots
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I think Bill Moyers is a great journalist and researcher who always examines issues from all sides, but his article above seems to be written out of fear and frustration. No group, not even the religious right, should be stereotyped as 'this' or 'that.'
Last edited by Schmear; 02-05-2005 at 11:21 PM.
02-06-2005, 12:55 AM #12Scientists now have decisive molecular evidence that humans and chimpanzees once had a common momma and that this lineage had previously split from monkeys.
02-06-2005, 11:06 AM #13
The rise of the religious right in the Republican Party.
Anyone who considers themselves an independent or a moderate republican better think twice when they pull the lever for a republican candidate running for any public office. When they do, they contirbute to and strengthen the cause of the radical ideologues and theocrats now in control of this country. The funny or sad thing is that it is now the Democrats who are the party of conservatism and moderation."Proud not to be a member of the CCCP: Christian Conservative Coalition Party." SJG#3
02-06-2005, 02:51 PM #14Originally Posted by Cornbread
I don't think so, pal. I like my freedoms to decide my life and my beliefs.
How about we NOT have a thread bashing on christianity. Look at how well the mormon-bashing thread was received.Originally Posted by BSS
02-06-2005, 03:04 PM #15Funky but chic
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There's a hell of a fucking difference between Christianity per se and radical fundamentalism of any stripe, jackass. Your response sucked Jumper, on every level.
02-06-2005, 03:13 PM #16
did that response suck too?
so, the belief of the religion in the rapture is coming is not Christianity per se, but is instead radical fundamentalism?Originally Posted by BSS
02-06-2005, 03:59 PM #17
anybody else think its funny that the former attorney general lost his congresional election to a dead guy and believes in the raptureIts not that I suck at spelling, its that I just don't care
Days on snow 12/13 season: 67
02-06-2005, 04:07 PM #18
I do think the election loss bit is funny...
...but lots and lots and lots of people believe in the rapture. it's a core part of catholocism, lutheranism, presbyterianism, etc, just christianity in general.
however I think it's the wackos who believe it's coming anytime soon...or are arrogant enough to believe they can help expedite its coming.Originally Posted by BSS
02-06-2005, 09:12 PM #19Originally Posted by Jumper Bones
And that was the whole point of this entire thread."Proud not to be a member of the CCCP: Christian Conservative Coalition Party." SJG#3
02-07-2005, 12:32 AM #20
Find the Jesus Factor episode and watch it.
It will explain the first election, and I say, applies to the last election too of our born again leader.
Let me put it this way, if you did not vote for him, your two neighbors did.
Know thy neighbor.
And remember, your kids will go to school with their kids.
Welcome to the 3rd Great Awakening.
May God bless us all.
Now, where is that pope icon button??? No wait, not the pope, that is for us Catholics (the other Christians)...I guess we need an icon to represent the Christian Coalition.
BTW, this thread, while enlightening to some, is a total mojo suck.
Back to the ski stoke for meSki, Bike, Climb.
Resistence is futile.
02-07-2005, 02:57 AM #21Originally Posted by Schmear
Hey Natty, what's up with all the NSR political posts lately? You're killing the stoke. You must be in Oregon where the stoke is dead along with the closed resorts. Snap out of it dood."In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair." -Emerson
02-07-2005, 08:00 AM #22Funky but chic
Originally Posted by Jumper Bones
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How utterly "Christian" of you.
02-07-2005, 09:13 AM #23Originally Posted by Jumper Bones
Most people who read the "Left Behind" series believe that it is what the Bible teaches. But its fixation on Armageddon and war is a distinctly American invention. It should also be noted that the Rapture theory itself is quite new. It was largely invented around 1830 by a British evangelical named John Nelson Darby and really took off with the piblishing of the Scofield Bible in the early 1900's.Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.
02-07-2005, 09:21 AM #24Registered User
Originally Posted by Stu GotzDamn, we're in a tight spot!
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02-07-2005, 11:45 AM #25Originally Posted by Cornbread
btw - anybody stupid enough to believe in the rapture = a whole lot of people. Every Catholic you know, etc...I think you get the point, it's a core part of all of christianity.
and ice, you won't hear me whistling "onward christian soldiers" or going door-to-door prosthelytizing anytime soon. Decisions I've made on how to live my life. Some christians, like certain other faiths, feel that consuming beer is a sin, which I personally don't agree with either. I'm sure it'd amuse you to know that I'm going to be in bible-belt hell of Oklahoma for the next several months, the other land of the 3.2% beer and no alcohol sales on sundays or refrigerated...
anyway I think I've said my points. Sorry I douched up a political thread, but remember not to squelch people's freedoms of choice in the things you say in regards to voting or religion. Unless it's Tanner Hall.Originally Posted by BSS