Monday, June 21, 2010

Who are these "Evangelical Environmentalists" and what are they doing in the Gulf?

Terry Mattingly at GetReligion wants to know more about the "Evangelical leaders" visiting oil-spill affected areas of the Gulf of Mexico. An obscure story from the Associated Press reads, in its entirety:
Leaders of a group that encourages evangelical Christians to care for the environment say the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico raises moral challenges for the country.

The Revs. Jim Ball and Mitchell Hescox, leaders of the Evangelical Environmental Network, are visiting southern Louisiana to pray with people who have lost jobs because of the spill. Joining them is the Rev. Galen Carey of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Ball says they took a boat ride off the coast Thursday and were saddened by sights of oil-spattered marshes where birds were nesting.

He says the oil spill is a stain on the nation’s stewardship of God’s creation, and should inspire people of faith to embrace cleaner energy sources. Ball says how the nation responds to the disaster is a matter of values.
Mattingly's main concern is the journalistic value of the story. But he is not alone in being unacquainted with the principles involved. "Evangelical leaders," especially those who champion specific causes, are a dime a dozen these days. Galen Carey is a familiar name if you've been reading this blog lately. He is the successor to Richard Cizik, who resigned from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) after hugging one tree too many and hinting he might be going soft on "civil unions." Carey is not turning out to be much of an improvement, as he is now spearheading an effort by the NAE to engage in "dialogue" with pro-abortion groups.

Jim Ball and Mitchell Hescox are more elusive figures, as is their organization which apparently consists of themselves and a magazine editor. Both were signatories of the statement, "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action," issued by the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) in 2006. ECI was the successor to the Evangelical Climate Network, which launched in 2002 with the infamous (and misleading) "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign. I raised questions about ECI in 2007, as did Jay W. Richards of the Acton Institute and Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

American evangelicalism is, at this point in time, something of a rudderless ship. But if Carey, Ball, and Hescox are any indication of the type of "leaders" who are stepping forward to fill the void, the better option might well be to remain adrift at sea.