Dr. James Dobson has been pretty hot lately about the issue of global warming. It’s not that he’s for global warming; it’s that he is resisting efforts to make global warming a signature issue for evangelicals. Dobson’s letter to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) gets right to the point:
We have observed that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children (source).
Anyone who has been paying attention to politics in America knows why Dobson is concerned. In 2004, George Bush beat John Kerry because Evangelicals came out en masse to vote. Many of them (approximately 4 million more than the previous election) came to the polls because gay “marriage” bans were on the ballots. Partisans from both parties now know that energizing evangelicals can turn an election.
Ever since election 2004, many on the left side of the political spectrum have been trying to figure out how to capture or mitigate the evangelical vote. The Democrat party has been figuring out how to make inroads into the evangelical voting block. They are seeking to capture at least some of the evangelical vote by appealing to their moral conscience. But they want to do this while maintaining their support for the right of mothers to kill their unborn children at any stage of pregnancy (0-9months).
So the Dems have been trying to sell “creation stewardship” and the welfare state as issues of the Christian conscience that are every bit as important as the sanctity of human life. There are even some “evangelicals” who are helping them make this case. People like Jim Wallis have been trying to convince evangelicals to change their priorities when it comes to public policy. I think that Dobson’s letter to the NAE represents a resistance to this manipulation.
In my view, Evangelicals should not be the lackeys of partisans when they are thinking about where to cast their vote. Rather, we should allow our political priorities to be shaped by a robust Christian conscience. For this reason, I think Dobson is right to insist that the abortion issue is the greatest human rights crisis of our time and that we should not be distracted from the cause by politicians (Republican or Democrat) who care more about shoring up a constituency than protecting innocent human life. It’s an issue of priorities, and while the deleterious effects of “global warming” may be in the offing, the death toll of Roe v. Wade is already 40 million and counting. In my view, it’s not difficult to see which is the more urgent cause.
“Evangelicals battle over agenda, environment” â€“ Los Angeles Times
“Evangelical Body Stays Course on Warming” â€“ Washington Post
Among the many things that concern me about Dobson’s letter, cheif is the fact that in the section you quoted, he equates abortion, gay marriage, and teaching abstinence to children.
I agree with you that the lines of the abortion issue are more clearly drawn for those with a Christian worldview. None should abandon the cause or de-emphasize its urgency because of political considerations.
That said, however, I am surprised that you are suggesting that Cizik and NAE are “lackeys” (witting or unwitting) of the Democratic party’s agenda. To my knowledge, NAE has not switched sides on abortion or gay marriage. Cizik has simply seized an opportunity to work with rather than against a movement that has rapidly gained attention and urgency in secular culture. Evangelical Christians have much to contribute on this issue and need to be heard so that the debate is not entirely framed either by nature-worshippers on the one hand or profit-worshippers on the other. What exactly is wrong with that?
You go much further than Dobson or even Don Wildmon in your very cynical accusations against Rev. Cizik. Should this not give you pause considering that he is also a brother in Christ?
Sorry if my wording was confusing. I didn’t mean to call Cizik (or anyone else in particular) a lackey.