Climate change alarmism: a new 'religion' for Christians?

Climate change alarmism: a new 'religion' for Christians?

John Morrissey

With representatives of the world's nations due to jet into Copenhagen this December to discuss ways of saving the planet from inevitable incineration due to the human race's increasing carbon dioxide emissions, many in key sectors of the Christian churches have already joined the bandwagon, along with most of the mass media, politicians and educators.

Earlier this year, a couple of UK Anglican bishops called on Christians to observe a "carbon fast" during Lent; while in Australia not-a-few members of religious orders have been embarking on tree-hugging eco- theologies.

One of the most outspoken and influential proponents of climate change alarmism within the Catholic Church has been Fr Charles Rue SSC, a Columban missionary priest who is apparently seen by some as the Church's counterpart to Al Gore. Fr Rue's book, Let the Son [sic] Shine, was launched on 4 September 2009 at Australian Catholic University (Ballarat Campus).

As featured speaker at the annual Rerum Novarum lecture at Melbourne's Cardinal Knox Centre on 24 September, Fr Rue was able to promote his book's ideas in his address, described as "an Australian Catholic response to climate change".

Social teaching hijacked

In fact his talk was another example of how Catholic social teaching is being hijacked by the climate change alarmists. It also displayed how the language of theology can be misappropriated to serve the ends of a new green religion.

Sadly, Catholic institutions continue to be penetrated by the ideas and ideologues of the man-made global warming brigade who seek to use the authority of the Church to consecrate their agenda and to demonise any who dare to disagree.

During his address Fr Rue insisted we must accept "the science" (computer models' predictions of man-made global warming) without question and let go of our "outdated economic systems". In fact, he said, "the science" is part of the "theology of Creation" and the (IPCC) scientists are "messengers of God".

Christians, he said, should pray and ask for forgiveness for their actions and show compassion for the earth, which is losing "millions of species" to "biocide", while increasingly acidic oceans are preventing fish from forming skeletons and shells.

We must therefore "paint the big picture" and "create action benchmarks" to "think global and act local". It was a call to action, not a discussion, or even an explanation of "the science" of climate change and the consequences of any such action.

Of climate science "deniers" Fr Rue was scathing. They had to be confronted for ignoring or distorting the data. The "carbon Mafia", he declared, defend profits and play dirty by claiming to defend jobs, tugging on the heartstrings of Christians with feigned concern for the world's poor.

The dissenting scientists, he said, are in the pay of coal and oil companies, while Cardinal George Pell, an outspoken sceptic, was disparaged as ignorant of science and for wanting to turn the clock back 50 years.

The depth of Fr Rue's own scientific research was apparent when he referred approvingly to Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, and three popular works, including Tim Flannery's We Are the Weather Makers. However, Ian Plimer's solid demolition of their case in Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, was dismissed out of hand.

When questioned afterwards by a prominent meteorologist about the blanket slur on the integrity of opposing scientists - allegedly corrupted by coal and oil interests - Fr Rue was unrepentant. Asked by this scientist and another person to explain specific data that conflicted with his assertions, he refused to answer any more science questions - especially any from a gentleman he observed applauding a previous questioner!

But what was most insidious and seductive was Fr Rue's hijack of the language of prayer and spirituality, and his cherry-picking of phrases from papal encyclicals to cloak his side of a civic debate with an unwarranted moral authority.

His call was for "a faith response", as we need a "conversion", and for us to "recognise God's wisdom embedded in the earth". This was followed by a grim reference to the "prophetic" Hurricane Katrina as a response to human arrogance.

Incidental references to the environment in the encyclicals of John Paul II were freely invoked, together with a number of references to care for the earth in Benedict XVI's homilies during World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.

Mention was also made of the Church's "option for the poor", but with no recognition of how policies such as the Australian Government's emissions trading scheme will impact on employment, food stocks and living costs for the poor. It is only a cruel hoax to speak of compensation and "green jobs", as Spain has discovered already.

And it could only be worse in underdeveloped countries, as our former missionary speaker should know. In reality, China and India are to be praised for refusing to sacrifice their peoples' living standards to satisfy a lemming-like Western delusion based on the inconclusive and inadequate science of computer models.

Much of Fr Rue's wisdom is available in a slim but decorative publication called Let the Son Shine, and it was on sale at the Cardinal Knox Centre meeting, with a glowing review from the ABC's Geraldine Doogue. The meeting closed with a prayer taken from Fr Rue's book, including lines such as these:

As we relate to earth's rhythms with humility
May we welcome the truth when scientists speak of climate change
And reject false pathways designed to confuse.

John Morrissey, who has taught at Melbourne Catholic, Independent and State secondary schools, was present at Fr Rue's talk.

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