Masters of disguise

“‘100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030’ would likely impair human health or even kill more people than the pollution it prevented. “- Beisner, Crouse and Ruse

The evangelical “creation care” movement professes to be pro-life. For the most part, it certainly is. But some of its most vocal advocates give reason to wonder about its true commitment to life. A good example is the Evangelical Environmental Network, which recently launched a campaign demanding that the United States eliminate fossil fuel use – and be completely reliant on wind and solar energy – by 2030.

The impact of such a policy on environmental quality, economic growth and opportunities, poor families, and people’s health, welfare, living standards and life spans would profoundly negative. Many would die, especially the youngest, oldest and most infirm. Applied across the world, the policy would guarantee the needless deaths of millions of people in countries already wracked by poverty, malnutrition, disease and energy deprivation. That is hardly pro-life.

Cal Beisner, Janice Shaw Crouse and Austin Ruse offer a passionate, thought-provoking, life-affirming response to the EEN campaign.

Masters of disguise

‘Green’ evangelicals disguise anti-life policies as pro-life, perpetuating suffering and death
By Calvin Beisner, Janice Shaw Crouse and Austin Ruse

The evangelical “creation care” movement professes to be pro-life and, for the most part, rightly so. But some creation care advocates give reason to wonder.

Case in point: the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) recently launched a “Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign,” promising to “organize half a million pro-life Christians to participate” in efforts to curb pollution by demanding a switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar. It calls this campaign “pro-life” and says it will “free our children from pollution all across America with 100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030.”

Even if it were true that pollution from generating electricity from fossil fuels endangers children—and modern pollution control technologies and actual emission levels make this assertion questionable—the reasoning is ethically fallacious.

The Bible makes a stark and fundamental distinction between intentional and accidental killing. When God instructed Israel to provide “cities of refuge” in the Promised Land, He said:

If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past—as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to [a city of refuge] and live, lest the avenger of blood … strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past. …

But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. [Deuteronomy 19:4–6, 11–12]

Most legal systems today incorporate this fundamental ethical distinction, as by distinguishing accidental killing from negligent deaths, and intentional but not premeditated from premeditated homicide. They typically inflict no criminal penalty on the first and graduated penalties on the rest.

Some American evangelicals fail to make this distinction today. That failure weakens the pro-life movement and their pro-life arguments.

Like most ethics professors, when Dr. Beisner taught ethics in seminary, he made sure his students understood that proper ethical judgment considers carefully both the intent and the outcome of our acts. EEN’s campaign ignores that distinction and twists the facts about the outcomes.

The campaign morally equates fossil fuel electricity generation with abortion. However, the ethical differences between abortion and pollution are glaring.

First, the intent differs. In abortion, the intent is to kill a baby. In energy production, the intent is to provide energy that people need to sustain life and health. Any pollution that is a byproduct of energy production is an unintended risk—like the risk of an axe head flying off while cutting wood.

Second, the factual outcomes differ. In abortion, the outcome of every “successful abortion” is a dead baby. In energy production, the outcome of the energy produced is enhanced human health, living standards, and life spans. The effect of any pollution byproducts may be a slight reduction in some people’s health—but certainly not enough to outweigh the intended beneficial outcome. By contrast, the result of denying people access to affordable electricity is often to reduce their living standards, health, and life spans.

The term “pro-life” was coined in the 1970s to designate those who sought to restrict abortion. That has been its primary meaning ever since. To apply it to efforts to reduce the relatively small risks from pollution from electricity energy generation in the United States is to cheapen the term.

Moreover, EEN’s campaign does more than cheapen the term. Expanding on efforts that it began four years ago with its “Mercury and the Unborn” campaign, EEN’s current campaign continues the organization’s practice of disseminating erroneous information about pollution.

EEN’s previous campaign claimed that mercury from power plant emissions put 1 in 6 American infants at risk of “devastating … permanent brain damage.” In reality, the number exposed to enough mercury to have detectable effects was closer to 1 in 1,000; the risk was a delay in neurological development so slight as to be detectable only by trained specialists; and even that risk disappears in most children by age seven. In no case does it exceed about a half-point reduction in IQ, a difference common in identical twins raised in the same household. Further, less than 5% of mercury in US air comes from power plants.

Ironically, implementing EEN’s demand for “100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030” would likely impair human health or even kill more people than the pollution it prevented. By raising the cost of electricity, the mercury regulations alone are calculated to cost about 2,500 to 4,250 deaths per year. Getting 100% of our electricity from “renewable sources” (basically wind and solar) would cost multiples more. (The US Supreme Court ultimately struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury regulation, for these and other reasons, but EPA had already implemented it.)

Nonetheless, by morally equating the risks from power plant emissions with abortion, EEN justified applauding members of Congress who supported EPA’s proposed mercury regulation as “sensitive to pro-life concerns”—and chastening members who opposed it as not “sensitive to pro-life concerns.”

Whom did EEN applaud? Among the 13 members named, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin (both D-MI) both had 100% pro-abortion voting records  in the 110th Congress (2007–2008), and Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (both R-ME) and David Pryor (D-AR) all had 78% pro-abortion voting records. Only two of the 13, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Cong. Bob Latta (R-OH), had 100% pro-life voting records.

By broadening the definition of “pro-life” as it does, EEN obscures its meaning. By describing people with 100% pro-abortion voting records as “pro-life” solely because of their environmental views, EEN divides the pro-life movement, extols suspect health claims, and ignores the benefits of fossil fuels.

As a result, EEN makes it more difficult to identify and elect truly pro-life people to office, and thereby postpones or prevents victory in the long struggle to end the intentional slaughter of hundreds of thousands of babies every year in the United States (over 52 million since the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973).

Further, by presenting its environmental concerns as “pro-life,” EEN draws activists away from truly pro-life work into environmental causes tightly tied to the population control movement, which promotes abortion all around the world. It also delays bringing reliable, affordable electricity to billions who do not yet enjoy its wondrous benefits, and thus prolongs their poverty, disease, and premature deaths. These consequences are now so obvious and undeniable that promoting anti-fossil fuel policies in poor nations amounts to reckless disregard for human suffering and death—hardly a pro-life position.

Four years ago, more than 30 pro-life leaders signed a statement repudiating EEN’s deceptive mercury campaign. Now concerned citizens can join many more in signing a new statement condemning EEN’s deceptive “Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign” for the same reasons.

By all means, let us be good stewards of God’s creation. Let us seek ways to reduce risks posed by pollution, while still providing the abundant, affordable, dependable energy that is indispensable to lifting entire societies out of abject poverty and enabling them to enjoy the health and living standards we do.

And in seeking to reduce relatively small and unintentional risks, let us not undermine the efforts of truly pro-life people to end the killing of millions of babies here and abroad every year.

Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Janice Shaw Crouse is an author, columnist, and commentator, and Chairman of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Austin Ruse is President of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

7 thoughts on “Masters of disguise”

  1. The sad part is that everyone speaks from the positions and knowledge they have. I find most of us are unaware of some aspects of energy availability from sources that we have been told don’t work.

    Fact: in Germany a major car company is building production vehicles with a self generating magnet motor.

    Fact: A company in Australia has been building self generating generators for business such as hospitals and manufacturing plants. For several years they tried to raise money to go into world wide production but like so many other life altering products those who didn’t own or control the money flow from the product blocked it. Now they sell privately.

    A third situation is in America. People are building free standing generators that generate power so efficiently that it increases over unity output meaning the device generates more power than it consumes, (Much more).

    There are many people working on these technologies and many resources if people would stop saying it can’t be done and actually take a look. I know three people who run their entire homes on what people call free energy devices. Fact is most need some energy to start them. Once started they generate enough energy to drive themselves and entire homes.

    There is technology out there. It is available. I’m tired of hearing people say “it can’t be done”, when I personally know people doing it.

    I won’t give to info out in open forums. Two companies I know directly have had visits from Govt people telling them they can’t manufacture for sale free energy devices.

    For the record, I have built small scale devices that work as I have described above. They are expensive but they can be found or personally built.

    Good night.

  2. There is no surprise in this movement. One poll showed that 21% of born-again-Christians voted for the re-election of Obama, who is one evil dude. The spirituality of such folks is questionable. Fiddlin

  3. What fascinates me about “pro-lifers” is that they are so worried about an unborn fetus that is going to be born into poverty and probably suffer an early death because of the pro-lifers stance on energy, but they have no concern for the existing children born into poverty and probably will suffer an early death because of them. How they can justify that saving a fetus is far more important than saving a child that already lives and bleeds is beyond me. I don’t stand in judgment over them, that’s God’s job, and I am tired of them standing in judgment over me and others that say “I am not forcing my living and spiritual standards on someone that doesn’t believe in them.” That doesn’t make me “pro-abortion,” that makes me “pro-living.”

    1. TomO: you shouldn’t repeat libel.

      Pro-lifers want to protect all human lives, from conception (when science tells us is the beginning of a new member of a species) to natural death. They do more than any other private group to help low income individuals with their babies, both before and after birth.

      For those committed to murder of human beings, what’s a little libel against pro-lifers?

      Concerning terms: “fundamentalism” was coined by highly educated individuals, but later so many anti-intellectuals who had no idea what fundamentalism stood for called themselves “fundamentalists” that the term had lost its original meaning. Then “evangelical” and “born again” were coined, but now so many strange people are calling themselves evangelicals that that term is losing any semblance of its original meaning.

      In Matthew 7:20 we are told to evaluate people “by their fruits”, i.e. not by their intentions, but by their results. The same is true of programs. These people sound nothing like the old style evangelicals according to the people who coined the term.

    2. Sure Looks like your religion has you sacrificing yourselves while the Alluminati Nazi Joo’s illegally import slaves of a different color to replace you. Dhuuu. Your stone age blood bath, all funded with your money is destroying the planet, and GREEN the instigators claim to be. I started commenting here because my vegetable crops have failed the last two years and I lost all my time and money. Can’t do business here in IL w/out welfare card machine anyway, so I quit, not buying any thing so I can do business with parasites so I can pay more taxes to fund war and killing of our farmers. So I came here to learn more and help learn , not bible study. I have known AGW was political bullshit since 1990, learned over the years just how involved it is in the enslavement of the planet and who the scum is behind it all, and it’s very religious.

  4. Every good work begun by God on this earth is infiltrated and eventually brought down by the Enemy, like a majestic elk that is nipped by wolves over and over until it finally falls down and is consumed.

    It happened to Byzantium, a Christian empire that existed for 1000 years, it is happening to the United States of America and apparently to the pro-life movement as well.

    God, who is infinitely capable of creating new works, continues to move in the world. In 30 years, China will be the primary Christian nation on earth and will enjoy the blessings of God that America once had.

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