EPA Chief Equates Climate Change With ‘Religious Belief’
Donald Trump’s selection to run the Environmental Protection Agency – you know, Scott Pruitt, the guy who has sued the same agency over a dozen times – has been careful during the confirmation period not to sound too opinionated when it comes to climate change. This week, though, the media shed light on an interview where Pruitt dismissed acknowledgment of climate change as a “religious belief.”
Referring to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat who is a strong environmental advocate in Congress, Pruitt said, “This Senator from Rhode Island, during the midst of the testimony was just – it was just a religious belief for him and for others.”
Pruitt is making a bogus comparison. Faith is about belief in the unseen and that which cannot be proven. Senator Whitehouse and colleagues, on the other hand, aren’t resorting to faith to determine their stance on climate change. There’s endless scientific evidence to show that manmade climate change is real, so stating support for this science should not be construed in that manner.
Besides, if anything, the “religious” belief tied to climate change is one of denial. According to Pew Research Center, by demographic, white evangelicals are the least likely to think that climate change is caused by humans and most likely to believe there is “no solid evidence” to say that climate change exists period. Those who attend church at least once a week are also more likely to hold those views than those who do not.
Gina McCarthy, a former leader for the EPA, agrees that if religion is related to the environmental movement, it’s coming on the denial side. “I don’t know why climate change got to be a religion instead of a simple, fact-based science exercise,” said McCarthy. There shouldn’t be a leap of faith required in one direction or another, just a simple assessment of the facts we have in front of us.
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist who also considers herself a strong evangelical, is one of the people currently working to disassociate our environmental woes from religion. She frequently hosts forums to show fellow evangelicals the strong data that proves the legitimacy of climate change.
Hayhoe acknowledges that it can be a difficult pitch, with so many Evangelicals adopting all of the Republican Party’s views due to their firm opposition of abortion. That’s why she’s careful to make the case that taking a stand on climate change doesn’t make people any less of an Evangelical, and that the Bible actually supports the idea that faithful people should take care of the planet with which God blessed them.
Even more famous religious figures have joined in this crusade, such as Pope Francis who has scored headlines urging Catholics to take climate change seriously. The pope went so far as to call failing to combat manmade climate problems a sin.
In the same interview mentioned at the top of the article, Pruitt labeled the left’s so-called religious belief about climate change problematic. “[Environmentalism] is truly about the suppression of free speech and the suppression of ideas,” Pruitt argued.
Funny how Pruitt can see that these supposed “religious beliefs” are restrictive to others (in a situation that’s not really a religious belief, mind you) but when conservatives cite their religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against non-heterosexual Americans, it’s not a problem!
Protecting our planet needs to be a priority if our species has a shot at survival. Knowing that the foremost leader on the environment is shrugging off eco-activism as a matter of a religion leaves us in a frightening situation.
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