Feature:Opinion

Earth Day — a national establishment of religion

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Robert Nelson
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      Robert Nelson

      Robert H. Nelson is a professor of environmental policy at the University of Maryland, senior fellow with the Independent Institute, Oakland, CA, and author of “The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America” (2010, Penn State University Press).

Friday, April 22, is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. The theme this year is “A Billion Acts of Green” and we’re asked, like recovering sinners, to reform our ways: take our baths with less water, turn off the lights, spend less time on the computer, watch less TV, reduce our toilet paper consumption, and make a donation.

Getting an early start, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) observed Earth Day this past weekend (April 16-17) on the National Mall, with 40 exhibits.

As all this suggests, environmentalism has become our newest religion. According to Joel Garreau, professor of law, culture and values at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, a religion is characterized by “a distinction between sacred and profane objects; a moral code; feelings of awe, mystery and guilt; adoration in the presence of sacred objects and during rituals; a worldview that includes a notion of where the individual fits; and a cohesive social group of the likeminded.” Environmentalism, Garreau concluded in an article last year, fits this definition of religion very well.

Environmental historian William Cronon of the University of Wisconsin, Madison — president-elect of the American Historical Association — writes of environmentalism that it has “certain landscapes — usually the wildest and most natural ones — [that] are celebrated as sacred”; it is “openly prophetic”; it develops frequent “parallels to biblical prophecy in the Hebrew and Christian traditions”; and it offers “practical moral guidance about virtually every aspect of daily life….from the apocalyptic to the mundane.”

Then-Senator Al Gore, environmentalism’s leading convert, in 1992 declared in “Earth in the Balance” that “the more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for lack of a better word, spiritual.”

As such, issues such as climate change involve more than just “science.” The Bible’s book of Deuteronomy reveals dire consequences for those who seek to “play God.” We learn that God will strike down sinners who “worship other gods,” causing them to suffer “infections, plague and war. He will blight your crops, covering them with mildew. All these devastations shall pursue you until you perish.”

Contemporary environmentalism prophesies virtually the same set of environmental calamities resulting from global warming: rising seas, famine, drought, pestilence, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Often without realizing it, environmentalism is recasting traditional biblical messages. The Endangered Species Act replaces Noah’s Ark; wilderness areas are the environmental “cathedrals”; Earth Day is the new “Easter,” a time for deep religious reflection and revival.

Environmentalism thus is literally, not simply metaphorically, a new religion.

This raises difficult constitutional and political questions that have yet to be addressed — or even recognized — in American public debate. As University of Alabama law professor Andrew Morris and co-author Benjamin Cramer ask in a pioneering 2009 article, “Disestablishing Environmentalism,” published in the journal Environmental Law, how can we reconcile the character of environmentalism as an actual religion with the constitutional principle of separation of church and state?

It is clear, for example, that environmental religion is being actively proselytized in U.S. public schools. Similar proselytizing by Jews or Christians would be strictly prohibited.

  • koblog

    Earth Day: founded by a girl-friend-murdering socialist.

    Irony: the more communistic a nation is the more destitute and polluted.

  • flips

    Conservatives are faithful to the religion of stupid.

    Soiling one’s own nest makes life miserable.

    The right’s embrace of pollution as an eternal good that should never be regulated shows your faith in stupid.

  • Newly Minted

    I spent a few months in Costa Rica, staying mostly in hostels that were filled with eco-leftists. I’m former US military, Army. I wear my old Army tee-shirts and boots. Let me tell you this, these eco-Nazi’s don’t like the military, no matter how much they grumble “I support the troops.” I was treated coldly at best, harshly at worst.

    These eco-fascists hate Christianity but they love any pagan religion, even the ones that sacrifice human beings.

    Read the book, Rules for Radical Conservatives. The radical left hates us. They hate you and they hate me. They hate anything that is strong and healthy. Most democrats are useful idiots at best. Your typical democrat voter is blind to who their real leaders are. The leaders of the democrat party are far to the left of their base. So don’t go starting fights with your democrat brother, sister or parents.

    But we have to open our eyes to who is in control of the democrat party today. They hate us. They hate the US. They hate Christianity. They hate our Founders and they hate anyone who succeeds on his own. They love Islam. They love homosexuality and abortion. They love anything that makes America weak. We can’t debate them. We can’t makes deals with them. They have to be defeated.

    • truebearing

      Nice group! You fired a lot of shots, but there is only one hole in the target….dead center in the bullseye.

  • truebearing

    The assertion that environmentalism is a religion is further supported by the fact that it is rooted in ancient earth worshipping paganism and is a modern day composite of various, dare I say, recycled pagan religions.

    Despite its ancient earth worshipping roots, the environmental religion we are dealing with has Marxists as its High Priests and sitting in its Great Sanhedrin.

    Environmentalism has been hijacked by the left and functions as a great cloaking device. They worship power, not earth, but fear is always the tool of tyrants and pseudo-scientific global warming scams work well with suggestions that Mother Earth is angry at us unworthy humans. All we need to do to please her is make some sacrifices. For now air conditioning and prosperity will do. later the earth deity will develop a taste for Christians and capitalists.

    The new left saw the opportunity to set nature up as the deity to be worshipped by the masses since Mother Earth can be easily depicted as hating capitalism and earth worship doesn’t conflict with the High Priests rapacity for political power. The syncretic religion of Environmentalism results in a dual religion, with the Marxist elite chaste worshipping power and controlling the lower chaste environmentalists with pseudo moral codes like political correctness.

    The left has a fondness for syncretism, especially when it is helpful in defeating its old nemisis, Christianity. Being an essentially plastic, parasitic religion itself, its adherents make a practice of latching on to other ideologies and eventually hijacking them for their own power worshipping purposes. They are attempting to do the same thing with Isalm that they have with Environmentalism, civil rights, women’s rights, the labor movement, the Democratic Party, and so on. The goal of Marxists, Environmentalists, and Islamists is the same though: a One World Theocracy.

    Here on Easter, one has to consider who is behind all of these world religions that hate Christianity equally, and with such virulence. Could it be he to whom Saul Alinsky dedicated the ever-so-evil “Rules for Radicals”? Could it be the deity known as the “Father of Lies”, aka Lucipher? The Bible clearly states that this is Satan’s realm, his “environment”. Many lies were told to make Environmentalism the new religion and the new morality. We seem to have come to a point of moral clarity in the struggle of good vs evil. Environmentalism is just another face of that evil.

  • David Thomas

    “Contemporary environmentalism prophesies virtually the same set”
    Did you mean the verb prophesizes?

    • Supernatural Witness

      “Environmentalism” is the subject substantive and “prophesies” is the verb in his sentence. The only problem is with your own grammar knowledge.

      Environmentalism prophesying the same punishments is truly problematic because it misleads people about what constitutes their error like a cloak which covers evil.

      Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
      Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
      Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,
      who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.
      Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust.

  • ChillytheAlaskan
  • WordOfDog

    Is ‘common sense’ a religion as well? To a greater extent than not, the EPA is merely a foil to the damned-with-the-consequences profit motives of the private sector. Where would we be without the EPA?

  • toomuchinfo

    Maybe it’s just me, but I want to live in a society where they use as much toilet paper as possible.

    • cnter91

      I hear that, brother. God gave us mother earth to rape and pillage. So let’s party!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Taylor/1227016022 Paul Taylor

    Earth Day celebrations have evidenced a global cooling of interest in recent years. This April 22nd Earth Day will reveal the remnants of an environmental movement born of grassroots good intentions in the 20th Century that has become a partisan political weapon in the 21st Century. This Earth Day will include a diverse cadre of celebrants. Predictably, there will be green group gropes by those who practice environmentalism as a religion. News media will pay its respects with the obligatory coverage of the green establishment rallies, corporate sponsors and, no doubt, some political pageantry. Sadly, some of these activities will promote the capitalist-bashing doomsday rhetoric of a movement that now exists largely as a partisan political power constituency and corporate marketing tool.

    In 1970, the Nixon Administration established the EPA as a cabinet-level agency in response to public concern to do something about the deteriorating conditions of our water, air and lands. EPA’s broad mandate was to “protect human health and the environment.” The EPA took charge of all U.S. pollution control and associated regulatory programs. The EPA began with an annual budget of $1 billion and 4,000 employees. Before President Obama, the EPA’s budget was about $8 billion with 18,000 employees. This budget does not include the thousands of outside consultants and contractors under millions of dollars of EPA-administered government grants and loans. The EPA is the first and largest national government environmental regulatory agency in the world. The EPA is also the most costly – Obama has recently increased its budget by $10 billion. There are some 20 major U.S. federal environmental laws enacted under EPA and allied-agency jurisdictions.

    A March 2011Gallup Poll reveals current U.S. public opinion about the hot topic of global warming:
    • Percent “worried” about global warming 51%, compared to 66% five years ago. Percent believing global warming “seriousness exaggerated “43%, compared to 38% five years ago;
    • Democrats. “worried” about global warming 72%, Republicans 31%. Democrats believing global warming “seriousness exaggerated” 22%, Republicans 67%;
    • Percent believing that national energy development should be prioritized over environmental impacts 58% today, compared to 34% five years ago.

    After 40 years of environmental regulatory controls and policy successes, America leads the world in environmental protection. So, let’s concede that our environmental regulatory system is now complete, and that most pollution problems are solved, or are under active management.

  • CrazyHungarian

    Environmentalism, and to a lesser extent it’s latest offshoot (natural/organic lifestyle) also have these religious symptoms: Defending the faith, demonizing the doubters, spreading the word via missionaries, defining profanity (PC language), inventing a pseudo-science basis, and attacking the rulebreakers (whale wars, lumberjacks, happy-meals, eco-terrorism).