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The Environmentalisms of Baptists

This week two radically different Baptist perspectives on environmental stewardship were on display. On Wednesday, April 13, Dr. Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists spoke at a hearing of the Environmental Protection Agency in favor of their plan for implementing the Clean Air Act in Oklahoma.  Below is a portion of Prescott’s statement:

I am here to speak in favor of the EPA’s plan for implementing the Clean Air Act in Oklahoma. I think the time is overdue for Oklahoma, Texas and the other states in our region to retire their outdated, dirty coal fired power plants.

I am a Baptist minister and as a Christian I believe that we are required to be responsible stewards and caregivers of all that God created. Little connected with the mining and burning of coal could be associated with responsible stewardship.  There are a lot of good reasons to stop using coal. Strong arguments can be made for ecological and economic reasons but the adverse effect that coal has on human health outweighs all other considerations. Those adverse effects make it imperative that we make the transition away from using coal as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Christianity Today featured an article on their website this week titled Effort to Curtail the EPA Fails Despite Southern Baptist Backing.  CT details an effort led by the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.  On March 29, Richard Land, President of the ERLC, sent out an Action Alert asking supporters to contact Congress to back the Energy Tax Prevention Act.  Doug Carlson explained the ERLC’s position:

Caring for God’s creation is a biblical mandate. So is caring for the poor. But taking nonsensical regulatory steps that promise little if any environmental gain yet would adversely affect every man, woman and child through job losses and higher costs for energy and everyday commodities is foolhardy. It is all the more reckless for a government agency to do so when Congress has rejected the idea.

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