Religion in Society

How Inspiring to See Christians Stand Up for the Environment

| by NRDC

By Rob Perks

It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares. (Jeremiah 12:11)

My heart lept at the news that a Christian environmental group in Tennessee is leading the charge to get legislation passed that would ban mountaintop removal in the state.

Everyone should be appalled by the destruction of America's beloved mountains by the coal industry. And as someone raised a Southern Baptist -- and even named after the pastor of my hometown church -- I think it makes perfect sense for people of faith to be inspired to act on the Biblical tenet of stewardship. In fact, that's what the growing Creation Care movement in this country is all about.

In this case, a plucky little group called LEAF is fighting a true "David vs. Goliath" battle against the coal industry. According to a local newspaper story, Dawn Coppock, LEAF's legislative director, likes the odds of winning in the Tennessee General Assembly this year. "Tennessee's mountains are too valuable for us to wait for a sure thing," said Dawn. "Hang on for a squeaker, and pray for a victory party this spring."

Last year, her group fell just a few votes shy of victory on a bill banning surface mining above 2,000 feet -- much to the surprise of Tennessee's political establishment, environmental community and especially the coal industry. This time around LEAF is even more ready to mobilize its extensive network of faith leaders and religious supporters all over the state.

In the spirit of the Volunteer State, it's worth noting that Dawn and her faithful army of Christian soldiers are all volunteers. So why embark on this crusade to save the mountains? "The Lord called me to do it," Dawn said. As a Tennesseean, I feel like from a public standpoint, it's good policy for our state. As a Christian, I support it because if your mother bakes you a cake or your daddy builds you a house, you don't stomp on it.  It's not good stewardship."

With the coal industry revving up its opposition to the bill, Dawn makes clear that she isn't trying to shut down coal mining. It's just blowing the tops off mountains she has a problem with. Amen to that! 

NRDC will continue to offer whatever assistance we can to LEAF and other local allies in the crusade to save Tennessee's mountains from devestation.

And if anyone should wonder, "What would Jesus do?"  The bible tells us so:

You shall not pollute the land in which you live.... You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell.  (Numbers 35:33-34)