THE BLOG
09/30/2015 07:48 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2016

Immoral Distinction

Pope Francis gets it. Many of our politicians regrettably and unconscionably don't. They have displayed inability to grasp that religion is very much intertwined with climate change.

Unable to make the connection, these politicians' invocation of separation of church and state as reason to keep religion out of the equation is nothing more than a red herring.

Our founding fathers established the separation of church and state in relation to funding and the physical act of governing the nation, not in the sharing of spiritual values. Those values provide a prism through which to weigh the evidence, scientific or otherwise; they are not the decisions themselves.

The core of religion is a moral imperative, as expressed recently in line with Judeo-Christian doctrine by Pope Francis. It was his recitation of the venerable golden rule "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Embedded in climate change's environmental challenge is a clear cut moral imperative--an obligation to slow and eventually stabilize global warming for the sake of current generations as well as future ones.

If one has doubts about the extent of the danger from climate change, there is still enough evidence to dictate against gambling with the fate of future generations. Aside from this compelling moral imperative, precautions to avert future environmental damage make good sense in their own right, even if scientists' worst fears were never to be realized. (Among the precautionary steps that possess considerable singular intrinsic value are greater fuel efficiency, reforestation, and a switch to solar, wind, and other clean, renewable energy sources.

All this seems lost on many of our politicians, mostly Republicans. Typical is Jeb Bush, who also happens to be a Catholic and an aspiring presidential nominee. In commenting on Pope Francis' visit to the United States, Bush declared that the Holy Father was not a scientist, he was a religious leader (wrongly implying they were mutually exclusive).

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who like Bush is a Catholic and vying for the GOP presidential nomination, says he "follows the Pope 100 percent on spiritual issues" but feels free to disagree with Francis' political opinions, global warming being a case in point. Poor Marco provides another example of failing to fathom the scope of "spiritual issues".

Rubio goes on to challenge the Pope's aggressive stance on curbing carbon emissions in order to combat climate change. In doing so, the senator makes the same basic mistake -missing the connection between spiritual values and the carbon pollution generated by global warming.
Summing up the prevailing sentiment in Republican ranks on Capitol Hill was Congressman Darrell Issa. Climate change is "just not a church issue."

Leaders of the world's major religions side with Pope Francis in begging to differ. As for those who concur with Issa, they have obviously not given much thought to the destiny of future generations, including that of their own kin.