Who’s Afraid of Environmentalism?

Keith was pointing out a blog to me that he sometimes reads and in it I found this very concerned post. A sample:

“…environmentalism is fast becoming the default religion of our age and of our society. It is a religion that is politically correct and which creates few enemies. It is a religion everyone respects and a religion that is bound to garner attention. It is a religion that is creating its own brand of Pharisees, people who stand on the street corners, so to speak, declaring their religious accomplishments.”

What evidence does Mr. Challies have for this? Let’s back up, here are a selection of quotes from a local newspaper article about a local woman who is evidently concerned about the environment – this is Challies’ evidence:

“I only use reusable cloth bags when grocery shopping.” “When I’ve put away the groceries, I leave the bags on the front door knob so I’ll remember to bring them back out to the car.” “She never buys single serving containers.” “I engaged a diaper service to collect and recycle disposable diapers.” “They hang the annual Waste Management Calendar in their kitchen to that everyone can see it.” “Her twins help compost by putting their fruit peels in the Kitchen Catcher for backyard composting.” “We talk a lot about our earth and how we can help make it a healthier place.” “Our family of four only has a half bag of garbage or less, as most waste is either recyclable or compostable.”

Wow. This seems pretty mainstream to me. My mother is vigilant about separating recyclables and composting and following the waste management schedules but if you told her that her religion was “Environmentalism” I’m sure she would politely but firmly say no, it’s actually Presbyterian.

It boggles my mind why someone would try to set up a false dichotomy between environmentalism and organized religion. What’s odd about this post is that Challies begins by talking about Oakvilles new composting program and ends by saying he supports it. So how is this different from the lady in the newspaper? And yet, the false dichotomy continues in Challies’ comment section:

“For some of the young people he knows, there really are no absolute moral rules except do everything you can to reduce your footprint.”

I suppose if you take a crude, inaccurate view of environmentalism you might come up with something like that. Just like if you took a crude, inaccurate view of contemporary evangelical Christianity you might conclude that there are “no absolute moral rules” except that you don’t have an abortion or gay sex.


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