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April 20, 2006

The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship

A briefing was held recently dealing with the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. This is a short declaration on the matter of caring for the environment in light of the love of God and the liberty He gives us, while considering sound science, sound economics and the needs of the poor. From Amy Ridenour's National Center blog:

Before a packed audience today on Capitol Hill, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA), along with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and the Institute on Religion and Democracy held a lunch briefing at which top theologians and policy experts articulated a vision of Biblical stewardship based upon the Cornwall Declaration.

The title of the briefing was: "Pulpits, Pews and Environmental Policy: How the Cornwall Declaration is helping define the mandate of Biblical stewardship."

If this sounds like an ECI redux, there are some differences.

Speaking about the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), a statement signed by some members of the evangelical community that promotes the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming, Beisner said "[We] disagree with their assessment of the scientific evidence of the extent of human contribution to global warming, their prediction of the impact of climate change on human communities and the rest of the ecosystem, and their prescription of major reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as a solution to the alleged problem. The ECI does not specify how much emission reduction is needed to achieve its goals [to counteract global warming]. [This is] to ignore one of the most important aspects of the climatology debate: How much benefit would be gained at what cost to the global economy. And the global economy is not just an economist abstraction. It is real people who depend on that economy for jobs, income and the food, clothing, shelter, transportation and all other goods that they need."

Sometimes, considering cold economic facts is just as much good stewardship as reducing car emissions or turning off the lights.

I will say this in criticism of the briefing. They're a bit too critical of the ECI.

Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality, admonished celebrities, media and wayward religious leaders who are "twisting common definitions of ethics, morality, social responsibility and compassion for the poor to justify global warming agendas."

I respect, and in some cases know, some of the signers of the ECI, and I really don't think they're deliberately trying to twist words or have some overarching global warming agenda. Some may, but those I know don't, best I can tell. Now, I think the ECI may play into the hands of those with such an agenda, giving them a supposed common cause with evangelicals, but I don't think that was the intent.

While that part was a little much, Driessen goes on to give some criticism I tend to agree with.

Driessen also noted, "It is often the very policies they promote that actually represent the greatest threats to the world's poor. Over two billion of the world's people still do not have electricity for lights and refrigeration in their homes, for hospitals and clinics, for schools, shops, offices and factories, for wastewater treatment and other modern technologies that we often take for granted," he said. "And yet these poor countries are told they mustn't build coal or gas-fired electrical power plants, because First World countries are concerned about global warming."

Sometimes, turning on the lights is just as much good stewardship as reducing car emissions.

The over 1000 signers of this declaration include a number of people I respect, just as I respect a number of ECI signers. The Cornwall Declaration, however, includes more than just evangelicals. There are Jewish and Catholic as well as Protestant signers. Sometimes, gathering a group like this together leads to a least-common-denominator, watered down mission, but so far it doesn't appear that way.

This Cornwall Declaration is definitely worth a look.

See also: Cybercast News Service report.

UPDATE: Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute has an excellect comparison of the two tacts taken by the ECI and the Cornwall Declaration. His article is "Preserved Garden or Productive City? Two Competing Views of Stewardship".

Posted by Doug at April 20, 2006 01:31 PM

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» Getting Stewardship Right from Acton Institute PowerBlog
Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy passes along a report from Peyton Knight about a briefing in Washington sponsored by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the Acton Institute, and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. According [Read More]

Tracked on April 20, 2006 01:50 PM