Thursday, July 2, 2009

Faith Groups respond to ACES (updated)

On the note of ACES, I wanted to highlight how differing faith communities are responding to the legislation. Naturally, reaction to the bill divides down the conservative-progressive fault-line, centered around the belief or disbelief of the existence of human-made global warming. While important and theologically significant, the derivative claims of taxes and jobs only serve as supportive justification to the group's overall stance on the issue.

Citing skepticism of global warming and a regressive tax, conservative Christians are "sounding the alarm bells":
[T]he Cornwall Alliance – a conservative Christian coalition – has described its cap and trade provisions, which allow companies that pollute less than their limit to sell some of their permits to others struggling to meet such green requirements, ”as the largest tax hike in history.” Analysts have said such arguments may appeal to voters especially against the backdrop of the current recession.

Conservative Christians are distributing an online petition called We Get It! which reads in part: “Our stewardship of creation must be based on Biblical principles and factual evidence. We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming.”
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a leading figure in the social conservative movement, devoted much of his nationally syndicated radio show on Saturday to the topic, calling cap and trade a “regressive tax to the max.” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said in his blog last week that it “would increase an already staggering national debt by 26 percent by 2035” — a figure taken directly from the Cornwall Alliance’s estimates.
Progressive faith groups, on the other hand, are lauding the legislation. For example, a couple of Jewish groups hail the bill's passage:
"This is a crucially important issue -- the most important issue for the whole planet," said [Jewish Council for Public Affairs] Washington director Hadar Susskind. "If we don't do this, none of the others matter."

Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center, said that while the measure does not go far enough, it "creates an important framework for drastically reducing global warming pollution, creating hundreds of thousands of good, green jobs and increasing access to clean energy."

After lobbying for and winning the insertion of a provision to allow retrofitting to faith-based and other nonprofits, one influential coalition of religious groups is also content.

Update: According to the Wall Street Journal, several other progressive religious coalitions are going up on the airwaves, television and radio, to raise awareness of climate change, underscored by a biblical perspective. In the article, Rep. Perriello is quoted:

"It's important for people to see that it's not just [Democrats] saying this is important, but people who are coming at it from a moral background," said Rep. Tom Perriello ....

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