WASHINGTON – Saying they share a moral purpose, a group of evangelicals and scientists said Wednesday they will work together to convince the nation's leaders that global warming is real.
The Rev. Rich Cizik, public policy director for the National Association of Evangelicals, and Nobel-laureate Eric Chivian, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, were among 28 signers of a statement that demands urgent changes in values, lifestyles and public policies to avert disastrous changes in climate.
"God will judge us for destroying the Creation. Therefore, we as evangelicals have a responsibility to be even more vigilant than others," Cizik told a news conference.
"Science can be an ally in helping us understand what faith is telling us," he said. "We will not allow the Creation to be degraded, destroyed by human folly."
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Among the project's supporters are Edward O. Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer prize-winning scientist and author; James Hansen, a prominent NASA climatologist; and Calvin B. DeWitt, president of the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists.
Chivian said evangelicals and scientists are not as odd a couple as they may seem.
"We discovered that we were both speaking from our hearts and our minds. We found that we really like each other," he said.
Not all evangelicals were on board.
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, formed by evangelicals who say scientific evidence counters claims of climate change, derided Wednesday's announcement as "just another attempt to create the impression of growing consensus among evangelicals about global warming. There is no such growing consensus."
The alliance charged that the National Association of Evangelicals' board never approved the new collaboration. The NAE said its board approved a "dialogue," but no specific actions.
The new effort represents the boldest evangelical step yet into the world of environmental activism.
To start, the coalition is meeting with congressional leaders, both Democrat and Republican, organizing a summit on environmental issues and developing public relations tools such as a "Creation Care" Bible study guide.
It also has requested a meeting with President Bush.
Their pairing grew from a retreat last year at which all sides agreed that human behavior and public policy have put the environment at risk.
In the past, conservative Christians who embraced that cause have met significant resistance.
The Rev. Joel Hunter of the Northland megachurch in Longwood, Fla., refused to become president of the Christian Coalition of America last year because he said the group would not expand its agenda to include the environment and poverty.
Hunter has now endorsed the new project.