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Posted by on Mar 10, 2008 in Environmentalism

Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative

Check out this new website called Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative

Here’s the Greeting:

Welcome to the home of the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative (SBECI). This ministry began as a simple conviction that Southern Baptists sould be actively involved in creation care, but it has now become a promising vision for Southern Baptist Stewardship.

You certainly do not need this website to tell you that creation care issues are some of the most pressing of our day. In the past, these conversations have been largely abandoned by evangelical Christians. But today, both younger and more established Southern Baptists are excited to produce a unified moral voice on these issues.

And snippets from the Declaration:

We have recently engaged in study, reflection and prayer related to the challenges presented by environmental and climate change issues. These things have not always been treated with pressing concern as major issues. Indeed, some of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that these are real problems that deserve our attention. But now we have seen and heard enough to be persuaded that these issues are among the current era’s challenges that require a unified moral voice.We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice. Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better. To abandon these issues to the secular world is to shirk from our responsibility to be salt and light. The time for timidity regarding God’s creation is no more.

Therefore, we offer these four statements for consideration, beginning with our fellow Southern Baptists, and urge all to follow by taking appropriate actions. May we find ourselves united as we contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. Laus Deo!

Read the 4 statements here.

See the list of signatories here (original) and here (recent).

They include: Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Seminary; David Dockery, President of Union University; Ronnie Floyd, Pastor of First Baptist Springdale, Arkansas; Timothy George, President of Beeson Divinity School; Jack Graham, Pastor of Prestonwood BC and former SBC President; Johnny Hunt, Pastor of FBC Woodstock, Georgia; James Merrit, former SBC President, Frank Page, President of the SBC;

And many more…

My friend Nathan Finn, a Professor at Southeastern, has blogged about the website and Declaration here. He writes:

As you may know, last year the SBC voted to affirm what I believe is a rather pitiful resolution On Global Warming. I was not impressed. Thankfully, I am not the only SBC conservative who thinks there is something to the threat of global climate change and the need to be better stewards of God’s creation. A group of forty-four Southern Baptists, including current SBC president Frank Page and a number of my colleagues, have signed a statement titled “A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change.” The statement can be found at a new website called the Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative. There is also a place to add your signature to the document. I signed it about ten minutes ago.I am thrilled that some Southern Baptists want to engage this issue more holistically (and biblically) than is the tendency among many ideological conservatives. Be sure to also check out the document “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action,” a document drafted in 2006 that was also signed by several SBC leaders and that I publicly endorsed on my blog.

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  1. There is a vast difference in the terms “global warming” and “climate change”. Because of the earth’s historic cycles we know that we alternately go through times of warming and times of cooling. Many reputable scientists now believe we are in the early stages of a cooling cycle, having just worked our way through a warming cycle. Al Gore’s vision of an earth covered with the water of melted polar caps is just not happening. In fact, in the past five years I understand the caps have grown thicker. I think we should concentrate on environmentally friendly personal habits, such as recycling, limited use of chemicals,etc. and try not to get too caught up in the scare scenarios of those who have found ways to profit from our fears and insecurities. Of course I am referring to Mr. Gore’s new industry of selling carbon offsets to gullible industry leaders.

  2. Selling carbon offsets is not a new idea, and not one that Al Gore is solely responsible for.

    In fact, for individuals and businesses who prefer to work in a free-market system rather than deal with environmental regulations and taxation, carbon trading is a system which is preferred. Many economists and environmentalists support a trading system, because it offers economic incentives to reduce emissions (and then sell extra rights to emit carbon).

  3. I’m curious as to your opinion of the recent decision Ben Cole is announcing over at Outpost. I’m curious to read how McBryde stepped around the Hialeah decision in ruling that a Santeria priest in Euless could not offer animal sacrifice.

  4. Well, I think the Santeria priest saw this decision coming. Apparently back in January, the same Judge ruled against the priest’s motion for summary judgment and granted the City of Euless’ partial summary judgment. The priest was arguing that the City had substantially burdened his religious exercise by implementing a “land use regulation” (prohibition against killing goats within the city).

    The priest said that such a prohibition violated RLUIPA and Texas Religious Freedom Act. But the Judge said that the city’s ordinance was not regulating the priest’s use of land but instead prohibiting a certain activity throughout the entire city.

    And then today, ruling on the rest of the priest’s claims (which I can’t find the ruling on LexisNexis yet), the Judge said the city had a compelling interest to protect the public’s health.

    I fear that if appealed this ruling would be upheld. In Hialeah, you’ll remember, that ordinance was not a law of “general or neutral applicability.” It was specifically created to prohibit folks from practicing Santeria. However, it was not narrowly tailored to advance that interest. Thus, the Supreme Court struck it down because it did not meet the compelling interest test (which applies only in situations where the law specifically targets a religion). Now here, we have a law that most likely has existed for years and wasn’t designed to target the Santerians, if that’s what they are called? Thus, it was a law of general or neutral applicability (as Smith laid out). Since we’re in federal court and the law was not designed to target a specific religion, it doesn’t have to be justified by a compelling governmental interest or be narrowly tailored to advance that interest.

    Public health may indeed be a compelling interest but the Judge did not even need to demonstrate even existed. Smith really weakened the free exercise clause and minority faiths are the one’s that do most of the suffering. But if we were to apply the pre-Smith standard, I believe that public health is a compelling interest but that ordinance could have been more narrowly tailored to protect certain religious practices. Euless still could accommodate the Santeria religion if they wanted to. But once the Judge ruled against the priest’s RLUIPA claim, it all seemed downhill especially once Smith came into play.

  5. BDW,

    I believe that “Santera” or “Santeros” is the correct term (there’s what three mission trips to Cuba will do for you, but there’s always the risk of faulty memory on my part).

    Smith is bad law. Personally, I’m rooting for the priest. Unlike peyote consumption, animal sacrifice is a pretty central plank of Santeria. Banning animal sacrifice is the equivalent of banning Santeria, IMHO.

  6. They worship the created rather than the creator

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