While some of their leaders denounce environmentalism as pagan worship, others are adopting a distinctly Christian approach to "creation care."
For some churches, the environmental movement is not only a bad idea -- it's a false religion. "Environmentalism is nothing more than a pagan worship system," Pastor Jack Hibbs told his congregation at a recent Wednesday night service at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Southern California. The Bible clearly instructs humans to "use" the environment, not worship it, he insisted, pacing around the pulpit behind a sign advertising the church's "Worldview Series."
But while Hibbs and other conservative church leaders continue to demonize a movement they call "The Green Dragon," a growing number of evangelical leaders have been promoting mainstream environmental causes, even linking such concerns to biblical commandments. In 2006, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson went so far as to declare himself a "convert" on the issue of global warming.
But within the evangelical community, the unmistakable tipping point may be at Washington's National Cathedral this weekend, where some of the nation's most prominent evangelical seminaries will sign an agreement with a group called the Seminary Stewardship Alliance. The purpose of the covenant is to educate future church leaders about environmental initiatives -- or "creation care," in evangelical parlance. The Earth Day agreement will ask the seminaries to commit to 10 specific actions, including modeling "sustainable practices in areas such as our facilities, hospitality, housing, missions, communications, recruitment, travel, and use of resources."