BP: religion. The Southern Baptist Convention has used notably strong language to call on the government and its own congregations to work to prevent such a crisis again.
Joining me now to talk about that resolution and the green evangelical movement is Dr. Russell Moore. He is the dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He preaches at High View Baptist Church near Louisville, Kentucky. And Dr. Moore joins us from the studios of WFPL in Louisville. Dr. Moore, welcome to the program.
RUSSELL MOORE: Good to be with you today.
: Now, you posted on your blog that this oil spill should be something of a major call to arms for Evangelical Christians to take action, to protect the environment. What's your thinking there? Explain that.
MOORE: Well, I think that sometimes there are defining moments. I remember once an Evangelical figure spoke of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision as the Pearl Harbor of the Evangelical pro-life movement. And what he meant by that was that prior to Roe, most Evangelicals really thought of those issues, of life and protecting the unborn, as being a Roman Catholic issue, somebody else's issue. But then after Roe versus Wade, suddenly Evangelicals saw what was at stake and became involved.
I think that this catastrophe in the Gulf could be that kind of defining moment.
: So, Dr. Moore, why should this be such a rallying cry for Evangelicals?
MOORE: Well, I think for two reasons. One: God cares about the creation. He displays himself in nature. And so, the more that people are distanced from the creation itself and the more that people become accustomed to treating the creation as something that is disposable, the more distanced they are from understanding who God is.
Secondly, I think that people are designed to be dependent upon creation and upon the natural resources around us. And so, in order to love future generations, in order to love cultures, we have to love the ecosystems that support those things.
I'm from Biloxi, Mississippi, which is right now threatened by this oil catastrophe, and what's happening is that you've entire cultures and communities of people now imperiled. That's an issue of love of neighbor. And I'll have to tell you, this is the most traumatized I've ever seen my hometown, and I'm including the devastation of Katrina in that. It's kind of like a slow- motion hurricane with no end in sight.
: And it's really interesting that the Southern Baptist Convention, which you're a part of and you helped pass a resolution that they put out on the BP oil spill, and I want to read some of the language here. It called on the government to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis and to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, cleanup and restoration, and to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities.
When I see words like corporate accountability and talking about the government being involved with private industry, I'm very interested in the discussions that led up to this because it seems to go against some of the political thinking we've associated with Evangelicals in the past.
MOORE: Well, there's really nothing conservative and certainly nothing Evangelical about a laissez-faire view of a lack of government regulation because we as Christians believe in sin. And so that means if people are sinful, if all of us are sinful, then all of us have to have accountability and that includes corporations.
And so, simply trusting corporations to go about their business without polluting the water streams and without destroying ecosystems is really a naive and utopian view of human nature. It's not a Christian view of human nature. And so we believe...
: But isn't there some division within the Evangelical community about this issue?
MOORE: Yeah, certainly. There are divisions in Evangelicalism about how we ought to engage this issue and what it ought to look like. There are some Evangelicals, of course, who hold to a much more libertarian understanding of the relationship between government and protecting natural resources. But I think for the most part, Evangelicals are ready to have a conversation about protecting the creation.
And especially younger Evangelicals, who are just as conservative as their grandfathers and grandmothers in many ways and on many issues but who also understand that human flourishing means a healthy natural environment. And it simply isn't good for ourselves or for our neighbors to live in a world that is completely paved over and in which every piece of green land is replaced with a Bed, Bath and Beyond. That's not how God designed human beings to live.
: At the same time, I mean, your blog post is calling for a reassessment of the ecological conscience of Evangelical Christians. That's coming at the same time that we're hearing folks like Sarah Palin criticizing environmentalists and defending oil drilling in general, that this incident actually should lead to less regulation. I mean, do you see Evangelical Christians being, I guess, pulled in a couple of different directions here?
MOORE: I think it's good for Evangelical Christians to be pulled in multiple directions, if being pulled in directions means that we're thinking through issues from a Biblical point of view rather than from a purely political point of view. And so I think that means that Evangelicals can't simply be anybody's interest group.
We're going to have some disagreements but we have to have that conversation and it has to be more complex than simply parroting slogans.
: Dr. Russell Moore is the dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of the books, "The Kingdom of Christ" and "Adopted for Life." He joined us from the studios of WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Moore, thank you so much.
MOORE: Thank you very good to be with you.
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