During the campaign, then-candidate Trump often spoke dismissively and skeptically about the reality of climate change and the dangers that it poses to the health and safety of American citizens and our global neighbors alike. Since coming to power, the President has translated this rhetorical resistance into concrete policy, appointing a climate dismissive to head the EPA, announcing his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, and reversing countless environmental rules meant to steward the earth and to fight the advance of warming global temperatures.
One recent instance of the Administration’s climate antagonism was on Wednesday, May 31, 2017, when Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ordered a halt on the implementation of the EPA’s Methane New Source Performance Standard (NSPS), in keeping with President Trump’s Executive Order on March 28, 2017.
As young evangelical Christians, we are committed to a vision of the gospel that understands that all things are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and that the entire creation is being reconciled back to God through Jesus. This commitment will always lead us to advocate for the well-being of all people and for the protection of God’s good creation. The truth is that climate change threatens both. Its impacts are already altering the systems of the creation in powerful and potentially irreversible ways, and the result means higher food insecurity, increased flooding and drought, rising sea levels, increasingly severe weather events, and unbearable heat waves. What is more, the cruel and unjust logic of climate change ensures that these impacts are disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable and impoverished populations around the world, from unborn babies in their mother’s wombs to children of color in urban Detroit to subsistence farmers in Kenya and Bangladesh. These are the very people for which Scripture tells us God has a special concern (Ex. 3:7-8, Zech. 7:9-10a) and who Jesus commands us to love as if we are loving him (Matt. 25:40).
For most young evangelicals, being pro-life is more than simply being anti-abortion. It is about a consistent ethic that defends humans life and works for its flourishing from conception until natural death. As a Focus on the Family video, The Dignity of Life states, “From the formation of a child’s first tiny cell to life’s final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God.” The video goes on to say that being pro-life is “not just about a political issue. It’s a world view … it’s a life view.” We applaud Focus’s understanding that is also supported by the National Association of Evangelicals and by Catholic Social Teaching.
By necessity, defending human life at every stage requires a safe, healthy, and stable environment in which life can flourish. This means that healthy air and water must be possible for all people, and that a stable climate be assured to all generations. These are basic public goods necessary for the advancement and protection of human life; public goods that the federal government has a constitutional responsibility to defend, protect, and promote for all people. Delaying the implementation of the NSPS diminishes the ability of the federal government to protect and promote these public goods and it endangers life at all stages—particularly the lives of vulnerable, impoverished, and oppressed peoples.
A consistent ethic of human life requires that we achieve healthy air for vulnerable people now, that we protect and steward God’s good creation, and that we ensure a stable climate for future life to flourish. That’s why creation care remains integral to a consistent pro-life position, and why delaying the NSPS is inconsistent with evangelical commitments to caring for God’s world and loving our vulnerable neighbors as we love ourselves.
And that’s why the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), a partner ministry of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, recently presented the EPA with almost 92,000 comments from pro-life Christians in 21 impacted states in support of the NSPS. No other group did more. What is more, 95,000 pro-life Christians also signed a petition and/or called their Senators to save another methane regulation by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) focused on natural gas infrastructure on public land. Clearly, creation care and a consistent ethic of human life is central to evangelical concern—and even more so for younger generations of evangelicals.
It is time to stop the handouts to the fossil fuel industry and to defend children, communities of color, and impoverished populations the world over by providing pure air, pristine water, and a safe and stable climate that can sustain abundant, flourishing human life. To do so is consistent with the very pro-life values that the President and EPA Administrator Pruitt profess, it is consistent with the responsibility of the federal government to promote and protect the common good, and it is faithful to the Biblical call to care for God’s creation and to love our fellow human beings as if they were ourselves—indeed, as if they were Jesus himself.
Defending life and the common good through Biblical faithfulness at the very heart of what President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt have been given power to achieve. Reducing methane pollution in order to ensure a healthy climate for current and future generations is as basic as it gets. If they cannot do even this, they are not fit to lead and should resign.