Gallery H

Attending The Garden

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Christian Right Missing Biblical Command For Earth Stewardship


By James Donahue


In their rush to dismantle US environmental laws and allow big industry to exploit and pollute the planet, many high-riding, unchecked Bible thumping right-wing Christian political types illustrate their ignorance when it comes to the contents of the book they flaunt.


While this writer in no way condones Christianity, he knows what is in the Bible. It contains a commandment by God, found in Genesis 2:15, to “dress and keep” the garden, which we perceive as the Earth as it existed when humans arrived.


Some Christian environmental groups are well aware of the commandment to be good stewards of the Earth, and they share our concerns about the reckless way the former Bush Administration and the remnant still hanging around Washington are turning its back on this key part of this important covenant.


The Bible teaches that the agreement was between man and an external God-creator looking down from the clouds. We believe the covenant to be an arrangement drawn between humans and the Mother Earth, from where we came and from whom we receive our daily sustenance for life.


It is a common sense kind of covenant. It did not require a signed legal document, nor did it involve the commanding voice of an almighty God speaking down from the heavens to the terrified band of illiterate humans crawling from out of their caves. Either we love and care for our garden, or it dies, we starve, the water turns to poison, the air to toxic gasses, and all life goes extinct.  


The Christians may argue against this concept until dooms day, but the fact remains that from their own “holy” book, they also are bound by the same covenant that the rest of us are. Sadly they are ignoring this important task assigned to all nations, all creeds and all nationalities. Consequently, dooms day may be closer than anyone wishes to think.


It is interesting to note that many people including religious leaders are beginning to agree that something is radically wrong with the extreme right wing cult that took over Washington during the Bush years. It has been politically popular to bash Mr. Bush and the people who followed him into the extreme economic, political and environmental mess that we now are facing.


Even before Bush left office, the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization of 45,000 churches representing an estimated 30 million members, circulated a draft of a policy statement that urged lawmakers to reinstate laws placing mandatory controls of carbon emissions on industry.


Since taking office in 2001 Mr. Bush systematically scrapped these controls, either through executive order or by encouraging legislative action. He used natural disasters like Gulf hurricane damage to push urgent bills through the two houses designed to help oil and gas companies repair their plants and get the carbon-based fuels flowing again at maximum speed.


Fortunately much of this damage has been reversed since President Barack Obama took office. But there is much more work to be done, and many feel that it may be too late to stop the dramatic climate changes, extreme crop failures and the world-wide economic disaster awaiting Mr. Obama.


There were efforts by other world leaders, and especially the European Union nations, to take steps. But the key player was always the United States, and as long as Mr. Bush remained in office, there was no cooperation. Thus we lost an opportunity to become a world leader in heading off the environmental disaster that was bearing down on us like a runaway freight train.


Bush turned his back on the international Kyoto Agreement, forged in Japan while former President Bill Clinton was still in office, that would require participating nations to force industry to roll back greenhouse gas emissions. Bush argued that the agreement would be unfair to U.S. industry which competes in a global market because not all countries were participating. China and India are among the larger nations that are not involved in the agreement.


By his actions, and the actions of the elected legislators who followed Bush in lock step, there seemed to be a total ignorance in Washington of the Biblical teachings requiring humans being good stewards of the earth.


“We believe that we have a rightful responsibility for what the Bible itself challenges,” said Richard Cizik, the association’s vice president for governmental affairs. “Working the land and caring for it go hand in hand. We ought to be able to bring to the debate a new voice.”


The problem politicians and even President Obama now have in enforcing the Kyoto Agreement and pushing for laws forcing higher clean air standards for U. S. industry is still financial. Perhaps because of the inaction by the Bush Administration, and the decision to allow banks and lending institutions to run unchecked, the financial impact will be even more profound. The world is indeed struggling through a financial crisis that will surely be exacerbated by such laws.


Clean air legislation is working its way through the two houses even as we write these words. But our legislators are struggling with this issue. If the legislation becomes law, Americans must be willing to bite the bullet, so to speak, and pay the extra price to fix the mess we have been making for far too long. Anything less might be a form of human suicide.


The question now is with our nation already facing a multi-trillion dollar debt, our military locked into two overseas wars, and millions of Americans out of work or facing possible loss of their jobs, it appears as if our standard of living is falling fast. Will Americans be willing to pay the price for the survival of future generations?