So you’re having second thoughts about global warming? Not convinced by Al Gore or a growing number of scientists that climate change is being brought about by the human contribution to carbon emissions? Then you’re no better than Josef Fritzl, according to the Church of England’s Bishop of Stafford, Gordon Mursell. Horrific stories have surrounded Fritzl, the Austrian father who allegedly locked his daughter in a sound-proof, underground cell for twenty-four years and fathered numerous children with her while he frolicked in holiday resorts in Thailand. But to make his point in a recent pastoral letter, Bishop Mursell writes:
And yet Josef Fritzl represents merely the most extreme form of a very common philosophy of life: I will do what makes me happy, and if that causes others to suffer, hard luck. In fact you could argue that, by our refusal to face the truth about climate change, we are as guilty as he isâ€”we are in effect locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key. We are right to be disgusted at these crimes.
Mursell’s outrageous comparison has drawn criticism and praise, according to London Times religion correspondent, Ruth Gledhill. In an article on 2 June 2008, she records the outcry from advocates for those abused by Christian clergy while also letting Mursell offer an explanation for his words,
I think we have to try to find ways to get people to see the consequences of our failure to act on climate change. If we donâ€™t face those, all I am saying is we are destroying the future of our children just as he did. Could you not argue that if there is no future for our children and grandchildren, we will have been guilty of committing the most appalling crimes as well?
Unfortunately, such pressure from religious leaders is not limited to the Church of England. Increased support for global warming is making huge inroads into evangelical, non-conformist chapels across the United Kingdom. Evangelical congregations are developing all sorts of policies and programs that leave the average parishioner with little room for the exercise of his/her own conscience on such things as climate change and environmental activism.
One new service called “ChurchCheck,” offers churches the ability to hire mystery visitors to attend their weekly services and provide detailed feedback to church leadership. Here’s a brief statement from their brochure, explaining how it all works,
Blending into the congregation, the ChurchCheck visitor will carefully assess factors ranging from the state of the noticeboard to the warmth of welcome, from the length of the sermon to the ease of involvement, from the after service conversation to evidence of fair trade.
Did you notice the last phrase, “evidence of fair trade”? The very presence of this assessment factor demonstrates how important such issues have become within the evangelical church in Britain, ranking right up there with the length of sermons and how warmly a church receives visitorsâ€”no mention of doctrinal integrity or missional impact.
Another example is the “Eco-Congregation” concept that encourages churches across the British Isles to participate in “greening the cornerstone” (gag!) with resources “to help churches put Godâ€™s House in green order.” The depth of action recommended in their 12-page “Church Check-up” makes for interesting reading. Here’s a list of the headings under which specific action points are suggested for each aspiring eco-congregation:
- Children’s Work
- Youth Work
- All Age and Adult Education
- Church Property
- Church Management
- Church Land
- Personal Lifestyle
- Community Outreach
- Overseas Concerns
In a recent post, “Christian Boycotts: Sitting in Judgment on Unbelievers,” I suggested that,
The Christian activist movement can only operate when an environment of fear can be created and maintained. We already look stupid enough without telling our non-Christian friends that we canâ€™t meet them for coffee at Starbucks, or shop at Wal-Mart, or buy our gasoline at Texaco, or engage in free enterprise with dozens of other corporations on the hit list of some watchdog â€œministryâ€ that stands to gain from stirring up dirt on anyone they can.
So here in the UK, Christians are expected to make sure their food products are fairly traded and their churches are eco-friendly. These two movements within the church of Jesus Christ, although separated by the Atlantic Ocean, are related in many ways. They require church leaders to use fear and manipulation on the body of Christ, as if we’re too dumb to know where to shop, what to buy, how to travel, how to dress, and where to spend our holidays. If you think I’m being ridiculous, take a look at the Green Guide Online, a database that tracks nearly 14,000 eco-friendly goods, services, contacts, and organizations. They invite readers to use their “14-day plan to make your life greener.”
So do you know your carbon footprint? You can check it here. And remember the warning of Bishop Mursell, if you’re thinking bad thoughts about the whole global warming theory, your entire character is questionable and one day your children may consider themselves no better off than the daughter of the perverted monster-of-a-father, Josef Fritzl.