Politics: Do Unto Endangered Species…

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Outside magazine, June 1996

Politics: Do Unto Endangered Species…

With the environment up for grabs, God send in a green army
By Bill Donahue

And on the eighth day, after he had created Gingrich, Dole, and other democratically elected foes of the environment, God beheld Congress…and created Christian radical enviros? So it would appear–at least to the rank and file of the mainstream green movement, thrilled to suddenly be fighting alongside the Evangelical Environmental Network, a religious group that embraces the
Endangered Species Act as “the Noah’s Ark of our day.”

“They have the industry lobbyists running scared,” says Sierra Club spokeswoman Melinda Pierce. “They’re able to diffuse the fiery rhetoric by saying the kind of stuff you hear in church.”

The EEN, which represents about 1,000 churches across the country, entered the fray in January with a Washington, D.C., press conference. There it decried legislators who “believe in the creator but don’t give a hang about his works.” More recently, the group launched a pro-ESA radio ad campaign and placed a number of op-ed pieces in newspapers nationwide, grabbing the
attention of influential lawmakers in the process. Republicans Don Young of Alaska and Richard Pombo of California, who coauthored the controversial ESA rewrite currently being bandied about in Congress, have issued a press release lambasting EEN’s ties to “professional environmental organizations.” Concedes Young aide Steve Hansen, “The EEN is a formidable group.”

Mainstream activism is new to the EEN, which began in 1993 by circulating environmental curricula to member churches. But Stan LeQuire, the group’s soft-spoken, 41-year-old director, has no regrets about the new tactics. “God told Noah to save all the animals,” LeQuire explains. “He didn’t say, ‘Just save the ones that are beautiful.'”
Of course, not everyone agrees with LeQuire’s take on the Holy Scriptures. “We don’t work with environmental groups,” says the Christian Coalition’s Ann Ballard. “God bless you and have a nice day.”