Southern Baptists and Climate ChangeMarch 10, 2008
Ethics Daily ran my latest article today entitled "Southern Baptist Leaders Release Environmental Statement." It reports on the release today of "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change" from the new Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative. It has received a lot of other media attention today proclaiming that the declaration proves that Southern Baptists are changing their mind on the issue of climate change. However, such articles do not offer a close reading of the declaration. As I note in the the article after covering the arguments of the declaration, it does not compare to the stronger and more courageous calls for action by the Evangelical Climate Initiative statement two years ago or the recent address by Al Gore at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. This new declaration, however, does move much further on caring for creation than a resolution passed last year at the SBC annual meeting.
Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics offered his critique of the weakness of the declaration in an Ethics Daily column. He has another column, which includes a photo I took of Gore at the Celebration, that urges those in the New Baptist Covenant movement to make the environment an important part of the agenda. Hopefully, Baptists and other evangelicals will take seriously the biblical mandate to take care of creation and not settle for efforts that only go part of the way.
UPDATE [3-10-08]: For anyone who bought the hype that the declaration proved that Southern Baptists were warming on the issue of climate change, the Baptist Press quickly batted that away. In an article today dismissing the declaration as a "Seminary student's climate change project," they make it clear that it is not a statement from the Southern Baptist Convention and argue that it goes against previous SBC resolutions. It is interesting that one of the main arguments in the piece is that Richard Land of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission did not sign the declaration and has now offered public criticism of it. The piece notes that Land's absence was dealt with in a teleconference today. It came up in the teleconference because I asked a question about Land not signing.