Randy McRoberts (among others) notes this NYT piece from yesterday about a Rick Warren-backed "Evangelical Climate Initiative." Warren's not part of the theocon political circle, being fairly apolitical in the past. The piece shows the friction between politically center-left and conservative evangelical camps, with many of the usual suspects on the right (Dobson, Colson, the Southern Baptists' Richard Land and the NAE's Ted Haggard) coming out in opposition.
The funding of the group is interesting-
The Evangelical Climate Initiative, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, is being supported by individuals and foundations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Hewlett Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.
Those are names you're used to see funding various left-of-center groups (Pew and Hewlett are regular PBS/NPR donors), although Pew has a bit more of a center-left vibe. They're not names you normally associate with anything conservative or evangelical.
Most of the other names listed along with Warren are black evangelicals, who'll generally lean to the left on non-spiritual issues. We'll get a more detailed list later today when they have their news conference in Washington.
This issue has a lot of interesting ramifications that are worth looking at. The key one that comes to mind is that most politically-active evangelicals have a pro-business spin; taking a hard line on curbing global warming/climate change would require a lot of regulation of business which would run counter to their economic train of thought.
Secondly, the evangelical community, especially the more theologically conservative ones, tend to have a distrust of what they see as an increasingly liberal and anti-Christian academe. Thus, the college professors and other scientists that come out with reports of global warming are distrusted as secular liberals, and/or as careerists that need to show a problem to justify more research grants.
Thirdly, many premillennialsts among the theocons are expecting Jesus to come back in short order; thus, they may have little interest in a long-term environmental fix when there is unlikely to be a long-term. In that view, the Earth's like a late-model car that doesn't really warrant having a whole lot done to it, since we're not going to be driving it for much longer.
Those factors will tend to make many evangelicals skeptical of global warming or doing anything about it. When you couple them with more-secular pro-business types, they make up a plurality of the Republican vote.
However, not all evangelicals are economic libertarians, academe-bashers or premillennialists. A postmillennial world view would likely argue for better care of the environment, since we're going be around here for a while.
Randy makes some interesting cases in his post; here's his closer
I am not convinced that global warming is induced by us and I am not convinced we can do anything about it. But I could be wrong. If there are things we might be able to do to curb it, and if those things can be done without undue economic strain, well, let’s do them and see what happens.
Anyway, eighty-six evangelical leaders couldn’t be wrong. Could they?
Yes, they could, if the ECI is just environmentalists and their foundation friends grabbing the Tony Campolos of the evangelical left to make the environmentalists look less like Gaia-worshiping tree-huggers. We'll know more later today.
However, the problem may well be both fightable and worth fighting; I'm not sold on that at present.
The topic that is intersting to me off of Randy's piece is the premillennial-postmillennial angle; more on that later.