FALLS CHURCH, Va. (ABP) — The Baptist World Alliance is participating in preparatory meetings for the United Nations Earth Summit that will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012.
The summit, nicknamed Rio+20, commemorates the 20th anniversary of a 1992 gathering of more than 100 heads of states for the first international Earth Summit. The first summit addressed urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic development.
“The BWA participation is predicated on the need for deeper reflection on the role of religion in the development of a global ethics on environmental care and justice, as it takes seriously the scriptural injunction, ‘The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it,’ (Psalm 24:1),” leaders of the organization said in a press release June 2.
BWA leaders said Baptist involvement in summit preparation comes at “an especially propitious time,” observance of World Environment Day on June 5. Begun in 1972, the annual celebration is one of the main vehicles used by the U.N. to stimulate awareness and encourage political action on environmental protection.
“The BWA takes advantage of this important date to remind its constituency of our responsibility as Christians to care for the earth, urging renewed efforts to protect and preserve the environment, inasmuch as the BWA has, through resolutions, statements, and funding initiatives, demonstrated its commitment to environmental care and justice,” the statement said.
The Baptist World Alliance General Council passed resolutions on environmental protection in 1989, 1990 and 1992. The 1992 resolution referred specifically to that year’s U.N. summit in calling on the worldwide Baptist community to press governments on the "need for action in defense of tomorrow's world” and adopt responsible patterns of consumption and behavior that do not jeopardize the future of the created order.
Next year’s summit also comes at a time when some Baptists, especially in the United States, are among the more vocal skeptics about the science supporting global warming.
The Cornwall Alliance, supported by conservatives including Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is busily promoting a book and 12-part DVD series called Resisting the Green Dragon that bashes environmentalists for “seducing and scaring” our children and “trumpeting exaggerations and myths.”
A recent Huffington Post article gave the Cornwall Alliance partial credit for “historically low levels of public worry about environmental problems” revealed in a new Gallup Poll.
“Resisting the Green Dragon’s influence is large and growing,” Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance said May 31 in a press release. He cited growing numbers of journalists he said are coming to recognize the videos and book “are a serious threat to the Green juggernaut.”
BWA leaders, meanwhile, said the “mandate to care for God's creation is more crucial than ever before.”
“In the past few centuries misconceptions of the relation of human beings to nature have contributed to increased irresponsible patterns of behavior that neglect the effects of human actions on the environment,” the press release said. “The Bible, however, clearly shows that the earth continues to be the Lord's — all of it.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.