Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, who has worked for decades to involve conservative Christians in politics, said Sunday the debate over global warming is a tool of Satan being used to distract churches from their primary focus of preaching the gospel.
“If I decide here as the pastor and our deacons decide that we’re going to get caught up in the global warming thing, we’re not going to be able to reach the masses of souls for Christ, because our attention will be elsewhere, ” Falwell said in Sunday’s sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. “That’s pretty wise for Satan to concoct.”
Falwell urged preachers listening on TV across the country, particularly evangelicals who signed an Evangelical Climate Initiative statement declaring man-made global warming a moral issue: “Don’t be duped any longer. The jury is still out on global warming.”
Falwell didn’t deny the earth is warmer than it once was, but he said fluctuations in the earth’s temperature have nothing to do with human activity. He described the “truth” linking global warming to a rise in man-made carbon dioxide gases as the “greatest deception in the history of science.”
Falwell quoted a scientist saying the west Antarctic ice shelf has been retreating two inches a year for 10,000 years. “I would back it up to 6,000,” Falwell quipped, alluding to an intramural debate between “theistic evolutionist” Christians, who believe life developed over eons in evolutionary processes guided by God, and “young-earth” creationists, who hold God created the earth directly in six 24-hour days only a few thousand years ago.
Falwell said his sermon title alone, “The Myth of Global Warming,” would prompt 500 letters to the editor from “tree-huggers and the liberals and anybody who gets upset at any challenge to the alarmism and the hysteria that’s going on.” He said the debate ought to be about science, but it has been about politics for a long time.
Falwell cited two Bible verses that he said apply to the global-warming debate: Psalm 24:1-2, which declares “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” and Genesis 8:22, which says there will be seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter for “as long as the earth remains.”
“Now that alone ought to let you sleep better at night, after you read Al Gore and attend his ‘Inconvenient Truth’ film,” Falwell said. “It may get him an Oscar, and also get him elected. I mean that what it’s all about, politics. The fact is, it’s all phony baloney. The fluctuation of temperature is real, and the temperatures have risen somewhat the last few years…. This is cyclical and has been since God created the earth.”
“Now how long will the earth remain?” Falwell asked. “It will remain until the new heavens and the new earth come. And that won’t happen until, well, over in the last two chapters of the Bible–after the tribulation, after the thousand-year reign of Christ, then new heavens and new earth. Why? Because the former things are passed away. The earth will go up in dissolution from severe heat. The environmentalists will be really shook up then, because God is going to blow it all away, and bring down new heavens and new earth.”
In recent years, “since Al Gore invented the Internet and then accelerated global warming,” Falwell said, “our world has been in turmoil.”
The “promoters of this alarmism,” Falwell said, include the United Nations, which he described as “no friend of the U.S.,” liberal politicians, radical environmentalists, liberal clergy, Hollywood and pseudo-scientists.
The Kyoto Treaty, which the European Union is pressuring the United States to sign, Falwell said is “abominable” and would bring America to financial ruin and turn it into a second-rate power. The first step alone, he said, would increase the price of a gallon of gasoline by 35 cents.
Unfortunately, Falwell said, “naive Christian leaders are also being duped,” jumping on a bandwagon with “persons who are on the left of everything.”
“I agree every Christian ought to be an environmentalist of reasonable sort,” Falwell said. “We should certainly pick up trash. We ought to beautify the earth as best we can. We ought to keep the streams clean. But we shouldn’t be hugging trees and worshipping the creation more than we worship the Creator, and that is what global warming is all about.”
Falwell said a better name for Gore’s film, which later the evening following Falwell’s Sunday morning sermon won an Oscar for best documentary, would be “A Convenient Untruth–convenient for him to alarm the people for his own political advantage, without any background.”
“He’s as much a scientist as I am,” Falwell said. “At least I think I do the debates better than he does.”
Falwell said there is intense pressure on evangelicals to “join the earthism crowd.”
“They think they’re doing the right thing and of course they get great press when they do that,” Falwell said. “Conservative evangelicals join forces with the liberals, they get applauded, get invited on all the talk shows and so on.”
Falwell said all he would have to do “to be the darling of the national media” is to say: “I’ve changed my mind, I’m pro-choice now. I’ve changed my mind, I’m pro-gay marriage. I’ve changed my mind, I’m pro-global warming.”
“The Washington Post would have headlines on the front page for me,” he continued. “But I’d be a liar and I would have dishonored my calling and what I know to be truth to do that, and I challenge my brothers out there to stop it.”
“I want to challenge my preacher brethren that are listening right now,” Falwell said. “I want to challenge deacons and Sunday school teachers who are listening right now, all across the nation. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be caught up with every wind of doctrine. Yes the temperatures are rising, and they will lower again, which does not mean we are going to have a global warming catastrophe or another ice age. It does not, because this is my Father’s world, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and as long as the earth remaineth, our text tell us, there will be spring, and there will be fall and there will be summer and there will be winter, and cold and hot. God has it all under control. We should be responsible environmentalists, but not first-class nuts, like the ECI crowd and the tree-huggers, Al Gore’s constituency.”
A moderate Baptist ethicist commented that what gets Falwell in trouble “is not what he doesn’t know, but what he knows that just isn’t so.”
“Falwell speaks with the certitude of a no-nothing buffoon,” said Robert Parham of the BaptistCenter for Ethics.” His flat-earth theology is wrong. His misuse of the Bible for reactionary politics is wrong. His dichotomy between evangelism and environmentalism is wrong. His demonization of thoughtful pro-environment Christians is wrong.”
“Like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell misspeaks every time he speaks,” Parham said. “That must create another nightmare for Southern Baptists.”
Falwell isn’t the only public figure taking on Gore’s film. The TennesseeCenter for Policy Research made headlines about hypocrisy by reporting Gore’s Nashville mansion consumes 20 times energy as the average home.
After reviewing the bills, however, The Tennessean reported Gore appeared to be practicing what he preached. The paper said Gore paid extra premiums to purchase blocks of “green power” produced by renewable energy sources, installed solar panels in a renovation project to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and drives a hybrid SUV.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.