With strategic focus and public unity in hand, early civil rights leaders were extremely effective despite limited financial resources. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to each successive city campaign or national march, they advanced their cause. Tangible milestones were reached and a growing awareness of the power of the civil rights movement impressed the nation.
The message I sought to deliver on Anderson Cooper’s program was that many evangelicals oppose making global warming a top drawer issue. Further, they do not want global warming alarmism to become a defining or a dividing issue for evangelicals.
As I have stated many times, I believe that evangelical church must take the lead in defining the key moral issues of our day in clear measurable terms. We must be willing to discuss the hot topics that capture popular attention, while maintaining our core commitment to preaching the gospel, the sanctity of life, the defense of marriage, and the protection of religious liberty in the public square.
My greatest concern about global warming has to do with the action steps that people are proposing. All scientists are not in agreement on a course of action that makes both moral and financial sense. For example, Dr. Richard Lindzen (Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT) wrote a compelling article for the Wall Street Journal in 2006 entitled “Climate of Fear.” This must-read article would give any rational person pause to reflect. In addition, the mainstream media fails to report that the earth’s temperature dramatically rose from 1900 through the 1940s, causing scientists to recommend immediate and drastic action.
And then, before we could martial the resources to take major steps of action, the temperature fell through the 1970s. Some of you may remember magazine covers and headlines warning us of global cooling. Once again, immediate and drastic action was recommended.
While evangelicals are open to being convinced by new information, we may be wise to weigh the data awhile longer. Instead of launching into programs that could consume hundreds of billions of dollars a year, perhaps we should put this money to better use solving tangible problems we all know something about. With it we could wage quite a war against HIV/AIDS or develop a clean water campaign in third world nations.
Finally, all Americans need to know that we will need an international buy-in to any plan we concoct. Can we guarantee that China, India, Pakistan and other massive nations will work with us for the common good?
I am thankful for the Anderson Cooper program. These issues must be discussed in evangelical circles. My sincere hope is that the next time global warming surfaces in the media we will have a unified evangelical position on the topic.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.