Sunday, September 09, 2007

Christians for the Mountains

In an opinion piece in Sunday's Gazette-Mail, Allen Johnson of Christians for the Mountains decries a Bush administration decision to apparently issue a regulation that would "enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal.”

I am definitely against the practice of mountain top removal mining. This post is not about that.

This post is about a dichotomy that exists in the Christian world that I find escapes the notice of a lot of people. We hear a lot about the power and influence of the oft-vilified "Religious Right" but I find many people don't realize that there is a strong Religious Left. Christians for the Mountains is one part of the latter group. Another is the West Virginia Council of Churches, even though they are far less liberal than the National Council of Churches of which they are an affiliate of sorts.

When I wrote in July about the way the WV Council of Churches found themselves in the same camp as the Religious Right on the table games issue, I was surprised at the number of people who were not aware of the Religious Left. So let me provide a quick overview:

The hallmark of the Religious Left is a world view that transcends national borders and boundaries. The ideology of the Religious Left is viewed by people on the Right as socialistic in its approach since it is a no-holds-barred social aid ideology. The Christian Left would say that Jesus' ministry, and therefore our ministry, was all about helping the poorest and most powerless among us and that the primary role of government should be relieving poverty in all its forms. That is a very simplistic synopsis, but time doesn't permit a more thorough treatment.

A while back I went to an event sponsored by Christians for the Mountains. I figured I'm a Christian and I'm for the mountains, so I thought I'd feel at home.

I didn't.

About five minutes into the presentation, one of the leaders of the evening made the statement that "there is a special place in Hell for [Massey Energy CEO] Don Blankenship." The crowd responded to the statement with a loud cheer. They really, really liked the idea of Don Blankenship burning in perpetual torment. How nice.

After a few minutes I got up and left the event without speaking to anyone. I didn't want to be a part of that crowd. You see, the bible I read says that it is God's will that none shall perish without knowing the love of God. The teaching of the church has always been one of grace and forgiveness, but that is apparently not a teaching of Christians for the Mountains.

Granted, there are many conservative churches (I might even say "most") that do not speak words of grace and forgiveness. But the overall message of the Christian Left has always been much more compassionate than fundamentalists. I expected to find that same gentle spirit at the Christians for the Mountains event, but apparently God's redeeming grace is not available to sinners as great as Don Blankenship.

It is sad when hate invades and takes over organizations that were built on foundations of love.


clear eyes said...

Thanks, Charles. I believe you're a little to lenient on the "Christian Left" when you generalize to say they are more compassionate than "fundamentalists." I do appreciate, however, your example of what happens when anyone places creation above the Creator or values that which was created for man over man himself.

sage said...

I'd like to start by saying, thank you to Charles for making good points through out this whole piece. It's sad when one gets so filled with anger and sadness that one forgets that God's love and redeeming grace is for everyone including those who destroy God's creation and ignore the cries of the people and yes even Don Blankenship. (although Rev. 11:18 has something interesting to say about the unrepentant that do such things, and so does Mathew 25).
This is not a matter of placing creation above the Creator but respecting what the Creator has created out of our love for God (the Creator). Anyone from CFTM could tell you this. Also I wouldn't say that all of CFTM is on the "Left" either. Many may not be on either side on some issues, as well as on the "right" on some issues as well. We may disagree about other political and social issues too, but we are united in the stance that we have to follow our biblical mandate to be good stewards of what God has created, and not destroy it as fast as we can while poisoning the people and communities there so that a higher profit can be made. I may think that what the coal industry is doing is wrong but I have love for the executives of those companies as people, even though I find it hard sometimes when I see so many suffer. I encourage everyone to read their Bibles, (particularly the Old Testament profits, like Isaiah, Amos, and Micah, as well as the four Gospels, and all the Epistles and letters including James). We need not try to pull the message of God as revealed in the scriptures and in the Life of Jesus Christ onto one political party or side or another. Doing so has placed a false idol (the political party/ ideology) before God, but let us let have the word of God and prayer be our guide. We all need to learn to love better, all of us, and it's only through accountable community and through prayer that we will grow our hearts with sincere love like Christ taught and Paul echoed.
Robert Sage with CFTM

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