Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
Issue number one this week in American politics is the ever-widening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For some political activists, the spill is both a political and a spiritual crisis. For others, the environmental threat to worry about is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Sojourners president Jim Wallis said the spill is a result of our "oil addiction." He wrote that people need to consider making significant sacrifices, starting with listening to and praying for people and churches along the Gulf.
"At the root of the crisis today is that BP learned exactly the lesson it was taught by our culture and our government through the Exxon-Valdez spill. Change is easy, quick, and cheap. Americans are hooked on oil, they aren't going to kick the habit anytime soon, and they have short memories—so slap on another new coat of paint and then get back to business as usual," said Wallis.
Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners magazine, went further by calling for a ban on BP doing business in the U.S. for 50 years, while she noted that this would not solve the current crisis or end the threat of other oil spills.
"The best news is that Attorney General Eric Holder is opening a criminal investigation against BP. This is exactly how a government should behave, and I applaud Holder's forward movement on this," said Berger.
The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is organizing a "Gulf Oil Spill Prayer Walk" along the gulf shoreline beginning on June 14. According to EEN president Mitch Hescox, the event is meant to build relationships with people living along the coast and to "bring Christ's hope to this human and environmental catastrophe."
"We hope to meet with individuals in churches, coffee shops, and in their daily life to insure that Gulf coast residents know that they are cared for and the church is preparing to respond," said Hescox.
The EEN has also posted Scripture, prayers, and advice related to the oil spill on its blog.
Conservative groups have said surprisingly little about the spill.
Elijah Friedeman, who writes the American Family Association (AFA) "Millennial Perspective," criticized the spill.
"We can't go on living life as if the environment doesn't matter; it does. Domestic drilling should be an important priority, but we shouldn't get carried away in our chanting of 'Drill, baby, drill' and stop thinking logically. Until BP and the other oil companies can figure out a way to implement appropriate safety precautions on their deepwater drilling rigs, deepwater drilling should be seriously reconsidered," said Friedeman.
Crane Durham, also of the AFA, said the spill was yet another example of President Obama's inability to solve problems.
"Regrettably, our President does not have a good track record of solving problems," said Durham. "Is it surprising that he is lost on the BP oil crisis? I can only pray he doesn't revert back to blame, demonization and feelings … oh, he has."
The environmental issue some groups cared about was the "power grab" by the EPA. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the Clean Air Act not only allows but requires the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases just as they would other air pollutants that threaten human health. The agency crafted new rules that go into effect next year. Opponents of climate change legislation supported a resolution that would have expressed disapproval of the EPA's actions.
The Senate considered the resolution, which would have limited the EPA's authority to regulate carbon emissions. The Republican-sponsored resolution failed by a vote of 53-47.
Prior to the vote, the Family Research Council (FRC), the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and the American Family Association (AFA) each called on people to contact their Senators and tell them to give the thumbs-down to the EPA.
"The EPA is putting the final touches on a set of regulations that would kick thousands of businesses off U.S. soil and close the doors on countless others. Those of us lucky enough to survive the corporate crunch will be staring down huge jumps in food, housing, and transportation costs," said Tony Perkins, president of the FRC.
Doug Carlson of the ERLC said emissions should be completely unregulated.
"Quite simply, neither the EPA nor Congress should regulate the gas—most of which occurs naturally in the atmosphere—under the auspices of curbing highly disputable human-induced climate change," said Carlson. "With a lack of scientific evidence for humans affecting climate, and with unemployment rates hovering near 10 percent—rates not paralleled in a quarter-century—the push to regulate energy and thereby kill jobs and drive up energy costs is nonsensical."
The AFA's e-mail alert echoed these concerns. It said the EPA regulations are unconstitutional and threaten both the environment and the poor.
"CO2 is not a pollutant—it is plant food. It's what makes plants grow," said the AFA. "It is odorless, tasteless and completely non-toxic in the levels that are found in our atmosphere. This is the EPA's Plan B to force an unbiblical, radical environmental agenda on America because the votes aren't there in Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation."
Odds & Ends
• Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discussed a recent report that in the U.K., about 80 abortions a year are by women who have gotten pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF). "One might think that the most welcome place in the world for an unborn child would be the womb of a mother who would be so intent on getting pregnant that she would seek and undergo IVF fertility treatment. It turns out that in a significant number of cases, that assumption is proved wrong. How do we take the measure of that tragedy?" asked Mohler.
• Chuck Colson of BreakPoint challenged criticisms of Israel's boarding of a flotilla last week. A supporter of a "just, two-state solution," Colson said Israel was justified in its actions. "We need to denounce the double standard applied to Israel," said Colson. "It has a right like any other sovereign nation to protect itself from those who would do it and its people harm."
• The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) said 90 percent of its large Board of Directors approve of the use of contraception, according to a survey conducted by Gallup. "Most associate evangelicals with Catholics in their steady leadership in pro-life advocacy, and rightly so," said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE. "But it may come as a surprise that unlike the Catholic church, we are open to contraception."
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