This past Sunday morning the organization I work for, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), ran TV spots in key states -- Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri and in D.C. -- asking viewers to tell their Senators "that defending the EPA's ability to reduce carbon pollution is the right thing to do."
On Monday, EEN's President, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, and I met with the Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator for air pollution issues, Gina McCarthy, played the TV spot for her, and hand-deliver more than 50,000 messages of support from pro-life Christians.
Here is what that message said:
Dear EPA Administrator Jackson:
As a pro-Life Christian, I urge you and the EPA to remain strong in your efforts to address carbon pollution through the authority of the Clean Air Act.
The reality of climate change is already being felt here in the U.S. and around the world in the form of extreme weather and health impacts, which most affect the unborn, poor, and powerless. It is time for America to tackle this great moral challenge. Doing so protects life and abides by Christ's teaching to love one care for the least of these who will be hit hardest by climate change.
As we told Gina, we're happy to stand side by side with the EPA as it leads our country in reducing carbon pollution.
The TV spots highlight the extreme weather that has been plaguing the United States and point out that the poor in poor countries are and will continue to experience more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, floods and other harmful impacts due to climate change.
"You do whatever it takes to protect someone you love," the video narrator says. "What about the less fortunate in poorer countries? Climate change is threatening their lives. Jesus taught us to care for 'the least of these,' and today this means working to overcome climate change."
I'm sure it will surprise some to know that over 50,000 pro-life Christians are supporting the EPA's efforts to overcome global warming. Support for climate action has been quietly growing, despite our economic troubles and the disavowal of climate change by prominent political leaders. Christians are seeing that climate action is part of Christ's lordship in our lives, even in the midst of hardship and opposition.
Support for climate action within the evangelical community began in February 2006 when more than 80 senior evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, formed the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) and issued a statement calling for strong action on climate change, including federal legislation to put a price on carbon. Since then evangelicals have authored numerous books climate change and creation care, including Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley's "A Climate of Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions," Jonathan Merritt's "Green Like God," Ben Lowe's "Green Revolution" and my own "Global Warming and the Risen LORD."
In addition, for the first time an evangelical denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, recently adopted a special report on creation care and climate change, which included the following statement:
"Urgent action is required to address climate change. Action is needed at the personal, community, and political levels toward reducing human causes of climate change and mobilizing ourselves in urgent assistance to those who are forced to adapt to its negative effects. We have an opportunity now to reduce the future impact of climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. These emissions are increasing at an exponential rate. Waiting to act until more data accumulate limits our ability to reduce future impacts and ensures that future climate change will be greater rather than smaller" (p. 57).
Christ's Lordship over climate action is reaching more and more evangelicals, and support for the EPA's climate regulations will continue to grow.
As my colleague and EEN's President, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, says: "So goes our community on this issue, so goes the country."
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.