(Courtesy of: Stonehaven Productions)
Evangelical leaders across the country have issued a Call to Action to urge their followers to take a stand on the environment, especially at the polls on Election Day. Host Steve Curwood talks with Reverend Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals. Rev. Cizik says "to harm this world by environmental degradation is an offense against God."
CURWOOD: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts, this is Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
As the 2006 elections approach, the Christian Coalition and other evangelicals have launched a media blitz on global warming, as part of a get-out-the-vote campaign among their followers. They say this is a Call to Action on global warming, which they have come to believe is an offense against God.
Key sponsors of the campaign on Christian radio are the producers of the documentary movie “The Great Warming,” narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette. The film opens in fifty cities this week, including some places with close House and Senate races.
REEVES: What if a single species became so powerful that it began to change the very nature of the planet itself?
MORISSETTE: It is happening now, and only one species has the power to stop it.
REEVES: We do.
CURWOOD: The Reverend Richard Cizik is the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, one of the sponsors of the campaign, and I asked him to explain it.
CURWOOD: Now, the ad campaign that goes along with Call to Action, why is this ad campaign targeted to those states where the election is expected to be very close?
CIZIK: Some say this is an effort to reach out to Democrats. Ahh, contraire. I think it’s an effort to reach out to Republicans, which is to say, we don’t want to preach to the choir, to use a church metaphor. We want to preach to the unconvinced, Republicans largely being the unconvinced. We are reaching out to them. So, it’s a little different than I think people normally take it.
CURWOOD: So, you’re trying to evangelize Republicans on climate change?
CIZIK: We’re trying, literally, to convert them as I was converted. I was converted in 2002 to the science of climate change. And it mattered not to me that one party was progressive and the other regressive or however you want to describe it. It mattered not to me, any of that. What mattered to me, first and foremost, was, is the science real? Is it going to impact people negatively? And I decided that I would do something, whatever I could, as little as it might be, I would do it. And if we reach out to people who, heretofore, haven’t even considered this as an issue, to challenge them with what the Bible itself says, and that we have to do something about this, well, I think we could not only change America, we could change the world. And that’s exciting to me.
CURWOOD: Reverend, how do environmental issues and concerns about climate change rank in comparison to other major issues for evangelical voters today? You say, they vote, say, 80 percent Republican, or they voted 80 percent for George Bush last time. What portion of that vote, at this point, do you think cares, in particular, about the environment and climate change?
CIZIK: Well, I’m not sure. Sixty percent say that they believe that climate change, for example, is an important issue. The environment has never ranked very high in anyone’s calculations. So, if evangelical Christians, which constitute about, well, one-quarter of the voting public of America, were to just cast a few percentages in the direction of environmental protection, that could change a lot of outcomes.
CURWOOD: So, in this year, in this election where victory and loss in the House and Senate are likely to be very close in many cases--
CIZIK: A few voters, a few voters, a small percentage could make the difference. And all we’re saying, in a non-partisan way, is take a look at both candidates—ask them, if you’ve not already, what’s your position on climate change? We think we’ve been able to do that already, even of the President of the United States.
CURWOOD: It doesn’t seem that you’ve converted him?
CIZIK: Not yet. (laughs) And I say that with an expectation that we will, in fact, persuade even this president, the oilman, that this is something he can’t ignore.
CURWOOD: Richard Cizik is the vice president for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals. Thank you.
CIZIK: You’re welcome. Thank you, Steve.
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