Sunday, October 24, 2010

Glenn Beck and the Green Dragon

No, it's not a children's book . . . or an alcoholic beverage . . .

Trailer for the anti-environmentalism curriculum Resisting the Green Dragon.

According to Media Matters, Glenn Beck recently condemned the progressive Tides Foundation for sponsoring The Story of Stuff Project, a curriculum about overconsumption and the environment. In response, Beck promoted a fundamentalist Christian, anti-environmentalism series called Resisting the Green Dragon as an alternative to The Story of Stuff Project.

Resisting the Green Dragon is a production of the Cornwall Alliance, a Christian "stewardship" organization which supports the use of fossil and nuclear fuels and condemns policies meant to curb global warming. I visited the website for Resisting the Green Dragon, which is being marketed as a "Christian response to radical environmentalism". The website claims that environmentalism has become a "new religion" that is harming the poor and threatening the sanctity of life. Several big names from the Religious Right appear in the curriculum, including David Barton (WallBuilders), Bryan Fischer (American Family Association), Tom Minnery (Focus on the Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), and Wendy Wright (Concerned Women for America). If several right-wing organizations have given their blessing to this curriculum, that support alone says volumes about the agenda behind Resisting the Green Dragon.

The website's trailer for the curriculum claims that environmentalism elevates nature above the needs of humanity and ignores the plight of the poor -- but it doesn't stop there. The trailer describes "radical environmentalism" as one of the greatest deceptions of our era, a sinister movement seeking to control America and the world. The "green dragon" as environmentalism is nicknamed in the curriculum, is supposedly "seducing" our children and popular culture in its insatiable lust for domination.

Just like gays and atheists, huh? Seriously, the Religious Right needs some new language, I thought.

A dragon eye, with a slitted, reptilian iris engulfed in flames, opens menacingly as the title of the curriculum appears on the screen. Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, founder of the Cornwall Alliance, states that a threat to society and the church. Dr. James Tonkowich, senior fellow at the Cornwall Alliance, describes environmentalism as a "worldview" infused with false doctrines about God, creation, sin, and redemption. (Seems to be a lot of "worldview" anxiety troubling fundamentalists lately.) The men accuse environmentalism of fear-mongering for the purpose of gaining power, a laughable case of the pot calling the kettle black in my opinion. Starting with the premise that many environmentalists want to reduce human population, Beisner then conflates the green movement with the "population control movement", casting environmentalism as some kind of dystopian nightmare threatening to control all breeding. These ridiculous statements would be hilarious if other people didn't believe them word for word.

The Cornwall Alliance and its disturbing curriculum caricature environmentalism as a monolithic entity, ignoring the diverse schools of thought within the environmental movement, including stewardship, deep ecology, social ecology, ecofeminism, Aldo Leopold's land ethic, and more. To boot, they set up a false dichotomy between environmentalism and Christianity, ignoring Christianity's rich tradition of eco-theology and growing environmental consciousness among people of faith. (The Evangelical Climate Initiative, GreenFaith, and Interfaith Power and Light are just three examples.)

I've heard right-wingers deny global warming before, but I was surprised that some factions of the Religious Right would take anti-environmentalism this far. At first, I thought that this antipathy toward environmentalism was due to fundamentalist anthropocentrism. Environmental consciousness demands that we give moral consideration to ecosystems and non-human life, which is incompatible with a worldview that awards humans unrestricted dominion of the Earth. After some internet wandering, however, I stumbled upon a posting at Think Progress that accuses the Cornwall Alliance of having financial ties to oil companies. If this is true, Resisting the Green Dragon looks more and more like an astroturfed attempt to turn Christians against environmental policies that challenge Big Oil interests.

We need to see through propaganda such as Resisting the Green Dragon and make decisions in the best interests of our world. Environmental consciousness isn't just about global warming in the future -- it is about threats to human health and ecological stability right now. We need to adopt practices and support policies that protect the environment, and in turn protect people. We need to explore ways to conserve energy, reduce unnecessary consumption, and prevent further pollution of our communities. And if Glenn Beck, the Cornwall Alliance, and Big Oil don't like it, tough!

For further commentary, visit the links below:

Think Progress: Glenn Beck Brings Exxon-Mobil-Linked Religious Front Group to Tell Christians Not to Believe in Climate Change

Media Matters: Beck resists the "Green Dragon" with anti-gay extremists

Climate Shifts: Resisting the Green Dragon

New York Times: Climate Change Doubt is Tea Party Article of Faith

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