Dominion Over the Earth?

In Genesis 1:28, God -- or at least, the ancient Israelite version -- told the newly created Adam and Eve to establish their reign over the Earth, "God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Fast-forward to the present, and some right-wing evangelical Christians are taking that message very seriously:

A who's who of Religious Right leaders have come together for a 12-part series called "Resisting the Green Dragon" which seeks to expose how the environmental movement is out to control the world and destroy Christianity. [...]

A twelve minute preview is available here (password: RESIST) but I have edited it down because it is a marvel of delusional right-wing projection with Richard Land saying environmentalists have a long history of believing exaggerations and myths, David Barton saying environmentalists' claims are rooted in their own biases, Bryan Fischer claiming the movement relies on outright lies, and Janet Parshall warning that Christians must fight back against this false religion because God has called upon them to take dominion over the earth.

In a sane world, we could just dismiss this as kooky and irrelevant. But given the evangelical right's strength among the Republican grassroots, it would be irresponsible not to prepare for when these arguments make their way into the chambers of Congress. That said, I would caution liberals against taking these statements as representative of American Christianity, or even evangelical Christianity. Right-wing evangelicals are very loud, but they are a minority within American Christianity and are outweighed by the mass of Catholics and mainline Protestants who have more sensible views on the subject.

What's more, there's an ongoing fight within evangelical Christianity itself, between intensely political, Republican-aligned evangelicals like those "resisting the Green dragon," and evangelicals like Richard Cizik, the former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who now leads an organization that works to bridge the gap between progressives and evangelicals on issues ranging from climate change to prison reform. These people are allies, and we should work with them as we push against the climate denialism of the religious right.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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