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April 18, 2014

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Contrary to Media Reports, National Association of Evangelicals Has Not Endorsed Latest Statement on Global Warming

Despite widespread perceptions, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has not endorsed a new “collaboration” of scientists and evangelicals announced at a press conference in Washington today.

A media advisory from the collaborative group dated January 12 claimed that at the press conference, “Leaders of the evangelical and scientific communities will announce an unprecedented joint effort to protect the global environment and advance policies that address some of the most pressing threats to our planet, including global warming, habitat destruction, pollution, and species extinctions. Spearheaded by the National Association of Evangelicals and scientists at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, the newly-formed collaboration is 33-members strong and growing.”

Although NAE Vice President for Government Affairs Rich Cizik is involved in the collaboration, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance has independently confirmed that the NAE board has taken no action on the effort. The organization’s official statement remains the document, “For the Health of the Nation,” which emphasizes our Christian responsibility to care for God’s creation but does not endorse a partisan political agenda.

Indeed, on January 26 of last year, the NAE board issued a statement explicitly refusing to embrace a particular position in the controversy over global warming. The statement said, in part, “Recognizing the ongoing debate regarding the causes and origins of global warming, and understanding the lack of consensus among the evangelical community on this issue, the NAE Executive Committee, while affirming our love for the Creator and His creation, directs the NAE staff to stand by and not exceed in any fashion our approved and adopted statements concerning the environment contained within the Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.”

“If Rich Cizik wrote or was aware of and permitted the release of the media advisory claiming that today’s effort was ‘spearheaded by the National Association of Evangelicals,’” ISA spokesman E. Calvin Beisner said, “he has overstepped the boundaries set for him by the NAE board in last year’s statement.”

“Rev. Cizik’s prominent leadership among those promoting the view that global warming is mostly manmade, is likely to be catastrophic, and can be effectively mitigated at acceptable cost by reductions in greenhouse gas emissions—all controversial issues among scientists and economists—over the past year has fostered the widespread impression that the NAE, representing 30 million members, embraces that view,” Beisner said. “This is another instance of that transgression, and we urge the NAE to make a clear public statement distancing itself from Rev. Cizik’s personal activities.”

Asked to comment on the collaborative effort itself, Beisner said, “It really is nothing new. Evangelical and non-evangelical scientists and laymen have cooperated in the past on various environmental issues, including global warming. Many of the scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are evangelicals, and many of the scientists critical of the IPCC’s public profile on global warming–including some IPCC scientists–are also evangelicals.”

Beisner said this effort appeared to be “just another attempt to create the impression of growing consensus among evangelicals about global warming. There is no such growing consensus. Indeed, ISA’s ‘A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming’ (http://www.cornwallalliance.org/calltotruth), which documents extensive scientific evidence against the alarmist claims of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, has an evangelical climatologist, an evangelical environmental economist, and an evangelical environmental ethicist as three of its authors and has been endorsed by more evangelical climate scientists and related experts than the ECI. If there is any growing consensus, it is in the opposite direction.”

“It saddens us,” Beisner said, “to see Rev. Cizik continuing to cooperate with efforts to divide evangelicals over this issue by issuing statements or forming groups that make sweeping pronouncements without citing evidence. We hope they will begin to take part in meaningful dialogue over the science and economics rather than continuing to pontificate.

“Indeed, the NAE might be just the organization to sponsor such dialogue. We would certainly be eager to take part.”

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