Denying science in general and the science of climate change in particular is now an article of faith for white American evangelicals right up there with the divinity of Christ. Thus when Trump announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, he was not only doing the bidding of the Koch brothers and the oil, coal and gas oligarchs but was also keeping a promise to his white evangelical science-loathing core supporters.
Erick Erickson (the evangelical editor of the conservative website the Resurgence), proclaimed on Twitter that: “I worship Jesus, not Mother Earth… He calls us all to be good stewards of the planet, but doesn’t mean I have to care about global warming.” Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican Representative from Michigan told supporters, that, “Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”
Evangelicals have been at war with science since the 1925 Scopes “monkey trial.”
The American Civil Liberties Union defended a teacher convicted of teaching evolution. By the mid-20th century evangelicals found themselves trusting radio hosts and then TV hosts in the evangelical subculture more than scientists. Before that they’d learned to trust their intellectuals including my late evangelist-philosopher father Francis Schaeffer, and the writer C.S. Lewis, instead of “liberal academics.”
Dad and Lewis and many others made the argument that a literal belief in the Bible was still reasonable. In fact it was more accurate than science in describing the universe and its workings. An entire body of so-called apologetics was developed by people like Lewis and Dad wherein they used arguments to “prove” the “historic truth” of the Bible’s claims. They did this by using everything from rising crime statistics (see what happens when God is expelled from society!) to studies on happiness of married couples (see how “biblical norms ” about sex work out better!) or how “modern philosophy leads to despair” (see how sad Camus and Sartre were because they had no faith!)—to argue the Bible’s superiority to the world’s wisdom.
Thus evangelicals — already shaped by suspicion of “worldly knowledge” — were easily seduced by well-directed dollars spent to shape their existing bias against facts. People such as the Koch brothers deliberately fed the evangelical’s resentment of the so-called secular elites by telling them that global warming was a “hoax” and so forth.
Other conservatives with an agenda also cashed in to bring millions of evangelical votes to conservative candidates. For instance, long before Trump promised to abandon the Paris climate accord, the far right activist, and former lefty, David Horowitz, was using his tax-exempt group to rail against the science of global warming.
Among Horowitz’s anti-liberal targets was climate change. He’s attacked the science of climate change repeatedly as a “ruse by the left.” His Frontpagemag.com made fun of global warming with headlines such as “New Study Says Global Warming Is Good For Polar Bears” and “Global Warming Ended in 1996.”
Horowitz has been careful to sometimes use, evangelical code as he’s introduced his Freedom Center’s mission to evangelicals. He talks about defending“traditional American values”– in other words white heterosexual oligarchs running the world. (Horowitz is a “red diaper baby” of communist parents. By the late 1970s, he had decided that the left was a threat to the United States and become an activist on the far right.)
Just how far have evangelicals reshaped their call to save the world for Christ into bare knuckle power politics? Consider how even white evangelical women voted for Trump as 53 percent of white women chose to support Trump over Hillary. Trump’s life and words and actions demean women. Evangelical women know that but voted for him anyway.
Today my father (who died in 1984) would be shocked to see where his life’s work — among other things helping to launch the evangelical anti-abortion movement that led to the marriage between the Republican Party and the religious right — has ended up. Dad would hate Trump. He’d be sickened by Trump’s attack on our globe’s climate health.
In 1970 Dad wrote a book Pollution and the Death of Man, dedicated to convincing evangelicals that their Bible-based beliefs were the best reason to care for the planet. He was way ahead of the curve on this. He even folded his ecological argument into yet another apologetic “reason” to want to believe in God. Dad wrote: “The man who believes things are there only by chance cannot give things a real intrinsic value. But for the Christian, there is an intrinsic value. The value of a thing is not in itself autonomously, but because God made it. It deserves this respect as something which was created by God, as man himself has been created by God” (Chapter 4).
These days evangelicals rarely quote Dad’s pro-environmental book. Rather they talk about how my father led the way in “standing up to the secular humanists.” That’s code for denying the truth of science, facts and the reality and deadly threat, of man-made climate change. The Trump/white evangelical god is made in the image of Ayn Rand with–as it were–art direction borrowed from Blade Runner. The world according to these white evangelical anti-Christs and their false prophet is one of unrelenting disregard for all life on earth.
These days the evangelical mind has been so twisted and manipulated by the far right and the oil and gas lobby’s “think tanks” that they really believe that they are “standing up to those liberals” and “secular humanists” by siding with a molester of women who is now gleefully raping the planet that evangelicals used to believe God gave to humans as a beautiful gift.
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Allow me to offer another perhaps more foundational reason why the Evangelical community is so thrilled with Trump’s idiotic action .
Blatant unrepentant hypocrisy due to their constant and consistent ignoring/avoiding the very Text [ Bible ] for which they claim to hold so dear and true to . Ignoring every passage that reminds them of their failed/fallen humanity – the fact that they are stewards of the planet not owners – the mandate thru out Scripture to respect the land and the rain God gave us .. along with their fellow human beings .. proof texting those that don’t agree with their desires etc etc – et al – ad nauseam …emphasis on nauseam .
Which is to say as an Independent Apologist choosing to live on the fringes : that todays ‘ so called ‘ Evangelicals ‘ have become over the centuries the polar opposite of what they claim to be . Having become in my opinion worse than any agnostic / atheist that they hold in contempt because in the midst of having created their own god in the image of themselves while claiming to be Christian have become the very epitome of hypocrisy . And to paraphrase the words of Martin Luther … ‘ better an honest atheist / agnostic than a hypocritical Christian ‘
As for Trump’s yet another moment of stupidity ?
It is rather ironic that – the Department of Defense – GM – Ford – Exxon – Shell – Apple , Google and the majority of Silicon Valley ( the very epitome of Ayn Rand adherents ) – the majority of Governors [ including those with an R by their name ] and Mayors of major cities / metropolitan areas etc – et al are standing up in protest and defiance of Trump’s actions on the Paris Accord
And yet Trump’s sycophant followers , supporters and those claiming to be Christians dance around in glee as Trump once again makes us ( US ) look like fools on the worlds stage
One more comment if I may pertaining to the so called Evangelical community . A few years ago the wife I I saw a preponderance of bumper stickers proclaiming ;
” Jesus may love you but the rest of us thin you’re a pain in the ____ ”
Now a hypocritical Christian would most likely take offense to that . Whereas a deep thinking and considered one such as ourselves had a good laugh having to admit that for the most part … the bumper sticker is 100% accurate
Schaeffer, would your father have voted for Hillary?
Thank you Frank. This to some degree helps to explain their idiotic reasons. It’s part of their core-belief which allows them NOT to take any responsibility for the damage & destruction of their agendas. But the rest of us now know what’s truly in their hearts.
“The only solution available to America is found in balance. Neither biocentrism based on pantheism, or homocentrism (man centered) based in humanism can provide the solution. They merely define the two poles causing the bitter battles being fought today. The answer must lie somewhere in between – a point where most Americans can find common ground to build a new environmental ethic That middle ground can be best defined in the Christian concept of stewardship.” Saviors of the Earth?, Michael S Coffman, p. 267