While many people use Earth Day to raise environmental consciousness, lobby for enlightened environmental legislation, or take part in eco-friendly community projects, the Religious Right uses it as an opportunity to grumble about environmentalism. As in past years, Religious Right voices are lambasting Earth Day, framing Christianity and environmentalism as diametrically opposed. The idea that Christian faith and environmental consciousness can overlap, as in the case of ecotheology and faith-based green initiatives, is not considered. Furthermore, instead of painting an accurate picture of environmentalism's rich diversity of thought, they caricature environmentalism as a monolithic movement characterized by fear, pseudoscience, Earth worship, and even outright rebellion against God.
First, in an April 19th commentary at Vision Forum Ministries. Jeffrey D. King seeks to dismantle the so-called "slogans and pseudoscience that surround this high holy day of environmentalism" to reveal environmentalism's "true agenda". King insists that "the primary goal of those driving it is not to “save the earth,” but to conform Western civilization to socialistic ideals." Earth Day 2013, he claimed, would be marked by "anti-Christian propaganda" and "outright hypocrisy" as environmentalists disregarded the fruits of manufacturing and the energy industry. He caricatured environmentalists as milquetoast "greenies" who rebel against God's command to subdue the earth.
"The Bible makes it clear that it is our duty to exercise godly dominion over the earth, subdue it, and be fruitful in the process ... Wise men use great tools, and the axe is one of the most fundamental tools of dominion and stewardship available to mankind. Throughout history, the axe has transformed the world by bold adventurers who tamed wildernesses, by Puritan visionaries who founded nations, and even by an Anglo-Saxon missionary, Boniface, who sparked revival in the lives of eighth-century Thor-worshipping pagans by hacking down their sacred oak tree ... With the bankrupt worldview of rank socialists and environmental pantheists threatening our culture and livelihoods, it’s time to reclaim the axe."
Second, E. Calvin Beisner, founder of the anti-environmentalism Cornwall Alliance, wasted no time in making a statement before Earth Day. In an April 14th press release entitled "Should Nature Be Valued Over Humanity?" Beisner defended economic development over environmental concerns, arguing "because economic development not only makes environmental stewardship affordable but also provides the best protection of the world's poor from disease, hunger, and premature death, development must not be shunted aside in a quixotic quest after environmental desiderata, particularly when, as with global warming, the science and economics are far from clear and compelling."
Also, in an April 3rd commentary at the Cornwall Alliance website, Beisner claimed that fear dominates environmentalism, which can be rooted in environmentalism's alleged rejection of God.
"The prevalence of Earth worship among environmentalists—worshiping the creature rather than the Creator—is the root explanation of the widespread foolishness of so many environmental fears ... Fear of environmental catastrophe grows out of lack of fear of God. That, I would argue, is the real root of the environmental scares that have plagued the modern world. Indeed, Green fear mongers are far more afraid of the Earth—a fact epitomized in the title of James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia—than they are of Earth’s Creator, who is the real holy and just Judge.
Eco-fears will continue–with or without scientific basis—until people repent and fear the Lord, for “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5, 7–8)."
Finally, in an April 22nd column at the Washington Times, Robert Knight demonized Earth Day and environmentalism as a "pagan religion" that is "driven by fanatics". "There’s a clear line between worshipping the Creator and mistakenly worshipping the creation," Knight wrote, oblivious to the fact that (1) most environmentalists do not worship nature, and (2) there's nothing inherently wrong with that if you've chosen it as your spiritual path. Knight alleged that environmentalism was having a detrimental impact on fossil fuel jobs and unemployment.
The Religious Right can caricature and demonize environmentalism all it wants, but more and more people know better. As the reality of climate change and pollution become impossible to ignore, enlightened people are becoming more environmentally conscious. As the importance of a clean, sustainable world becomes apparent, enlightened people are striving toward ecologically sound attitudes and practices. The Religious Right can lob ad hominem attacks at Earth Day, but it cannot halt society's increasing awareness.