Conservative Christian Leaders Call Climate Change a "Distraction"

Is there a moral imperative to address climate change? Former Vice President Al Gore argued this point in An Inconvenient Truth. Not everyone's convinced, though: a group of American conservative Christian leaders, including James Dobson (pictured), Gary L. Bauer, Tony Perkins and Paul Weyrich, sent a letter to the National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday that chastised the group for its recent focus on the climate crisis. The signers of the letter argued that NAE's vice president for government affairs, the Rev. Richard Cizik, is diverting the faithful from more pressing moral matters, particularly abortion and homosexuality. According to the New York Times, the letter represents a growing rift between established leadership on the Christian right, and "...challengers who are pushing to expand the evangelical movement's agenda to include issues like climate change and human rights."

"We have observed," the letter says, "that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time."

Those issues, the signers say, are a need to campaign against abortion and same-sex marriage and to promote "the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children."

The Association has not backed down from its recent "Urgent Call to Action" on environmental challenges, though, and current president of the NAE, the Rev. Leith Anderson, told the Times that he stood behind Cizik and his emphasis on the issue.

While the letter focused on the moral issue, several of the leaders were pretty candid about political motivations in later interviews: "...some signers of this latest letter said they were wary of the global warming issue because they associated it with leftists, limits on free enterprise and population control, which they oppose." We're not exactly sure about the Biblical basis for these concerns... perhaps they'll be addressed in another letter? ::New York Times

UPDATE: Fortune senior writer Marc Gunther discussed this development with the Rev. Cizik, and provides an overview of the minister's "conversion" to Christian environmental activist on his blog.

Photo Credit: Re-Taking America