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Santorum's Stance on Climate Change: Not Very Christian

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Five major polls in recent days definitively show Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum as the new front-runner for his party's nomination. Much of Santorum's ascension has been credited to his unwavering conservative beliefs -- among the GOP field, he is undoubtedly the strongest contrast to President Obama. A contrast that was highlighted earlier this month when Santorum said he has never believed in the "hoax of global warming" calling the science of man-made climate change "bogus". This long held belief of Santorum's may be the most shining example of how his policies do not reflect much of the fundamental principles of his faith.

He again incited faith to contrast he and the president last Saturday to a Tea Party audience saying, "the president's agenda" is "not about you... It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your job... It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology," Santorum said to applause. "Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology." Since that speech, Santorum has claimed that his comments were not made to cast doubt on the president's personal faith but rather to highlight Obama's theological worldview. A view he says "elevates the Earth above man... we can't take those resources because we're going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven -- for example, that politicization of the whole global-warming debate... this is just all an attempt to centralize power and to give more power to the government... I'm talking about, you know, the belief that man should be in charge of the Earth and should have dominion over it and should be good stewards of it."

But good stewards we have not been. While it has been proven over and over by at least ninety-eight percent of the leading scientists around the globe that climate change is in fact a real and catastrophic threat to our planet, and is also in fact man-made, it is not Santorum's inability to embrace the scientific data on man-made climate change that makes his stance so appalling. It is his repeated lack of desire to protect 'God's Green Earth' and his lack of compassion for the millions of people who have already been harmed by the devastating effects of climate change that makes his stance so wildly un-Christian.

Climate change is no longer just a cause for hippies trying to save the spotted owl. The fact that it is liberals and moderates like Al Gore and President Obama who have lead the charge to curb the disastrous effects of climate change has made it, in the eyes of conservatives, a partisan issue. Ironically, it is conservative Republicans who often tout the importance of Christian values in governing, that are so tragically ignoring the suffering of people all around the world, including those here at home. In 2005 a United Nations group found that there were at least 20 million environmental refugees worldwide -- more than those displaced by war and political conflicts combined. Recent estimates show that the numbers of refugees directly affected by climate change could reach 50 million by 2020. Last summer the UN proclaimed, "Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are in danger of going short of food and water." They also found that "competition between communities and countries for scarce resources -- especially water -- is increasing, exacerbating old security dilemmas and creating new ones. Environmental refugees are reshaping the human geography of the planet, a trend that will only increase as deserts advance, forests are felled, and sea levels rise. Mega crises may well become the new normal. These are all threats to human security, as well as to international peace..."

When 98% of the world's leading climate scientists and researchers say that climate change and its effects are both man-made and fully active in our world we can either respond to this as humanitarians, as well as conservationists, or we can discount them as part of a mass conspiracy, as Rick Santorum has done. If the former Senator were to walk in the shoes of a child displaced from his or her home due to rising flood waters, drought, thirst or starvation due to climate change, would he still belittle those who are trying to help? Is Santorum simply afraid that if we give science any credence at all that it will take away from religion's own power and influence? It would seem so. In turn we have seen a recent, and unfounded, narrative from the Republican Presidential field claiming that President Obama has waged war on religion, but the legitimate battle we face is that of one on sciences -- sciences that have been warning us for decades that how we physically treat our planet effects not just mother nature but the human race. When Rick Santorum chooses to not embrace the good that science can do for all of 'God's children', he may make for a more attractive conservative candidate for his base, but a good Christian he is not.

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