Christian Coalition joins hunting group in climate change fight
Remember the Christian Coalition of America?
Under the political operative Ralph Reed in the 1990s it was an electoral force to be reckoned with as it mobilized millions of conservative Christians to vote for mostly Republican Party candidates and causes.
It has since lost influence and political ground to other “religious right” groups such as the Family Research Council. But it remains a sizeable grassroots organization and is still unflinchingly conservative.
So it will no doubt surprise some to see that this week it has joined with the National Wildlife Federation — whose 4 million members and supporters includes 420,000 sportsmen and women — to run an ad urging the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that among other things addresses the pressing problem of climate change.
“Defending the status quo is no longer an option. We need swift action
to ensure America is the world leader in clean energy technology.
We can put Americans to work making and installing the clean,
renewable energy technologies that reduce our dependency on
foreign oil and address climate change.
Senators should work together to move forward with a clean energy plan for America,” says the ad, which ran this week in Politico.
It comes as the U.S. Senate considers a bill to curb the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.
Other U.S. Christian groups and prominent evangelicals such as Florida mega-pastor Joel Hunter have urged action on climate change — a top priority of President Barack Obama — on the grounds that the poor will bear the brunt of warming temperatures. They also see a biblical responsibility to care for God’s creations.
(PHOTO: Vanishing Arctic Sea ice is one of the most visible signs of global warming. REUTERS/NASA/Handout)
But influential conservative Christians such as Richard land of the Southern Baptist Convention have spent the past months assailing the cap and trade provisions of the bill as a massive tax hike. In many religious right circles the climate change issue is seen as downright hysterical or an attempt by leftists to cripple the U.S. economy.
But even the most hard-line conservative Christians are no longer united on this issue.
Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican Senator from South Carolina, broke ranks with his party and recently outlined a compromise to limit carbon emissions in a New York Times op-ed piece he co-wrote with Democratic Senator John Kerry.
That won him praise from national hunting groups and local ones in his home state, which has a robust shooting and fishing culture woven into its rural fabric.
We have recently blogged and written on U.S. hunters and anglers — many of whom are evangelical Christian, conservative and Republican — urging action on climate change, not least because of its threat to the game they pursue.
Roberta Combs, the president of the Christian Coalition, told me in a telephone interview that her group joined forces with the NWF on this issue because it saw a biblical need to look after God’s creation. But she said it also wants America to pursue alternative energy policies to reduce its independence on foreign oil including expanding its use of nuclear power — a stance sure to make many greens see red.
“We don’t agree with environmental groups on everything but if we can find things we agree on this will be a better bill…I’m real proud of Senator Graham. He’s a man of lots of wisdom,” she said.
Republicans are mostly skeptical of any move to “cap and trade” U.S. carbon emissions that result from burning coal and oil, decrying it as a massive job-killing tax by forcing the use of more expensive wind and solar power.
But a big chunk of their base seems to be parting company with them on this issue though climate change skepticism still runs deep in the U.S. heartland.
According to a Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday, 36 percent of Americans say global warming is a result of human activity, down from 47 percent in April 2008.