Religious leaders make the environment a “values issue”

More than 1,000 Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish religious leaders from some 35 states have signed and begun circulating a statement opposing President Bush’s environmental policies. And evangelicals aren’t far behind, having drawn up an “Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility” that emphasizes Christians’ duty to care for the environment, potentially putting signatories — including heavy-hitters like James Dobson of Focus on the Family — at odds with the candidate many of them supported. “The environment is a values issue,” said Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals. Some evangelicals are lobbying against Bush’s Clear Skies Act, arguing that it doesn’t do enough to rein in mercury pollution, which harms fetuses. Many religious activists prefer to speak of “creation care” rather than “environmentalism,” as the latter term, according to political scientist John C. Green of the University of Akron, brings to the evangelist mind “druids who worship trees.” Welcome to the club, folks.