For the love of God, some powerful zealots are trying to speed up the end of the world. Sadly, many folks who take the Bible literally believe that Jesus won’t escort faithful souls to heaven until the whole globe fries like Hiroshima on Aug. 7, 1945. Some people in high places of earthly power can't wait to see this in our lifetimes. Apocalypse-happy star preachers pitch prophecy Bibles that take literally the English translations of ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic scripture. Pop novelist Tim LaHaye gets rich selling 60 million Left Behind millennial fantasies. Cheshire-grinning in agreement, the religious right enjoys broad support in Washington. Journalist Stephenie Hendricks, who I met a couple of weeks ago at a reading in S.F., details this picture in her elegant book Divine Destruction.
Mix together the end-of-the-world obsession with dominion theology, the concept that man rules the planet and animals. What do you get? We get to do WhateverTF we want, say big-motor bullies who tear up national forests with off-road vehicles in their leisure time. Who needs public parks when God handed Adam a wild carte blanche? Such is the ungreen, oxymoronic doctrine of "wise use" espoused by ORV evangelist Ron Arnold and his ilk: a sloppy excuse for abusing our offspring's right to natural resources.
Having doomsday cheerleaders in high corporate and political places is devastating decades of environmental protections. For example, dominion theologists include exalted execs at Coca-Cola, Coors, and Ford--who enjoy cozy relationships in D.C. Some fundamentalists link environmentalism with paganism, pantheism, and of course, terrorism. Likewise, some environmentalists link religion with intolerance, ignorance, and corruption. Luckily, many Christians beg to differ (check out the Evangelical Ecologist blog that uses solar-powered Web hosting). Some of the most famous ecologists have been evangelicals, such as John Muir, but they're suffering a bad rap these days. Hendricks sees environmental debates as the biggest divide among politically-engaged Christians.
But because the "e" word can be taboo for some evangelicals, Hendricks explains that many bona fide Christian environmentalists use the politically correct term "creation care" instead. Google that and you'll find Christian eco-heroes such as the (unfortunately-named) Fred Krueger, who takes fundamentalist right-wingers on walks through the woods to make born-again conservationists out of them. You'll also stumble across the Evangelical Environmental Network (of WWJDrive fame), which sells Creation Care Magazine and publications like "Eco Church: An Action Manual." The Christian Environmental Association sends volunteers on Peace Corps-type projects aimed at "Serving the Earth, Serving the Poor." That's just the tip; such voices are getting louder.