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Environmentalism: The Newest Religion

By Editorial Staff
Published January 1, 1989

- by Patrick J. Buchanan

“Environmentalism is now well on its way to becoming the third great wave of the redemptive struggle in Western history, the first being Christianity, the second modern socialism … the dream of a perfect physical environment has all the revolutionary potential that lay both in the Christian vision of mankind redeemed by Christ and in the Socialist, chiefly Marxian, prophecy of mankind free from social injustice.”

If one would seek evidence for this insight of Prof. Robert Nisbet (Prejudices, 1982) – that environmentalism has become an ideological and religious movement – look around.

As Communist parties have atrophied in Europe, Green parties have sprouted. In Sweden, animal rights legislation now guarantees that cattle are given grazing rights, that pigs have separate feeders and bedding (no more unseemly communal slopping at the trough), that chickens are let out of their cages and given the run of the yard.

In New York, 2,000 militants marched up Fifth Avenue on “Fur Free Friday” recently to protest the raising and killing of minks, foxes and sables for women’s coats; sympathy demonstrations were held in 50 states. Hunters of duck and deer are finding themselves accompanied into the fields by animal lovers with bull horns to frighten off the prey.

The new movement of social protest also has its own Carrie Nations and H. Rap Browns, who torch furrier shops in California, and plant pipe bombs outside Connecticut companies that use dogs in medical research.

When men cease believing in God, C.S. Lewis wrote, they do not then believe in nothing, they believe in anything. Just as the ideal of a Marxist Utopia, where man would no longer exploit man, captured the hearts and commanded the devotion of 19th century men who had ceased to believe in Paradise, so the environmental movement has, in the late 20th century, taken on the trappings of a new religion.

“A person is not religious solely when he worships a divinity,” wrote Gustave Le Bon in The Crowd, “but when he puts all the resources of his mind, the complete submission of his will, and the whole-souled ardor of his fanaticism at the service of a cause or an individual who becomes the goal and guide of his thoughts and actions.”

As today’s environmental movement is, in part, the legacy of progressive Republicans Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, where did we jump the track?
Prof. Nisbet contends there was always a divide between the “conservationists” of Theodore Roosevelt’s time, dedicated capitalists who wanted to conserve the forest for man’s use, for recreation and lumber, and the “preservationists,” who wanted to protect the forest from man’s spoliation. But modern preservationists have gone beyond their forebears.

With the ’60s as point of departure, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as sacred text, environmentalism “without losing its eliteness of temper,” writes Nisbet, became “a mass Socialist movement of, not fools, but sun worshippers, macrobiotics, forest druids, and nature freaks generally committed by course, if not yet fully shared intent, to the destruction of capitalism.”

Capitalism, then is the unacknowledged enemy of the new environmentalism. Yet, because the “destruction of capitalism” is not seen as the militants’ goal, the movement has enlisted fellow travelers by the millions, from Americans concerned about nuclear power and the ozone, to Humane Society supporters appalled by TV footage of the clubbing of baby seals on the Canadian ice.

Needed is a divorce, a parting of the ways between traditional conservationists – those who believe that animals, as God’s creatures over whom He gave man dominion, ought to be treated as such, that historic battlefields like Bull Run, hollowed by the blood of patriots, ought not to be turned into shopping malls, that people who put medical waste in sewers and pollute ocean beaches ought to be horse-whipped – and zealots whose beliefs are rooted not in Judeo-Christian concepts, but, as Nisbet notes, in the “man-abasing, nature-worshipping, pantheistic monism of the East.”

Like all heresies, environmental extremism, with its hostility to technology and progress, is not something new under the sun. In the time of St. Francis, his more radical followers, elevating his rule to the level of Gospel revelation applicable to all, wound up before the Inquisitor of Toulouse, en route to the heretics’ pyre.

Needed to answer this new ideology is a little common sense. Is it not better for 246 million turkeys to be born, live and be slaughtered each year to feed Americans, than to have the militant vegetarians take over, and have no turkeys hatched at all? Is it wrong that of the 100 million cats and dogs in the U.S.A., one million each year are used in the kind of medical research that gave us cures for rabies and polio? Why is it worse for a duck or deer to die from a hunter’s bullet, than of starvation, cold or old age? It is nature – not men subduing it – that is red in tooth and claw.

Not only farmers and furriers, medical researchers and hunters, but all of us have a stake in a conservationist ethic that keeps the “man-abasing” nature-worshippers in the political wilderness, while seeing to it that environmental outrages like Boston Harbor are tended to.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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In The Days of These Kings (Book)

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The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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