Evangelicals, Mormon Scholar Reject Views of Talk-Show Host Rush Limbaugh

Religious spokespersons speak out against either-or approach on religion and acceptance of science on human-caused climate change.


If you’re going into a pitched public policy battle over issues related to climate change, it appears there is no ally to have on your side more valuable than God or “sound science.”

Preferably both.

But the problem, in the mind and mouth of nationally broadcast radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, is that you can’t have both. You must choose one or the other.

Not one known to couch his rhetoric in modest or qualified ways, the bombastic Limbaugh on his August 12 program told his listeners the matter is pretty clear-cut.

“See, in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming,” Limbaugh said. “You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something that he can’t create.”

“We can’t even stop a rain shower, but we can destroy the climate,” Limbaugh continued. “And how? With barbecue pits and automobiles, particularly SUVs. It’s absurd.”

Limbaugh’s broadcast came just weeks after some 200 scientists identifying themselves as evangelicals released an open letter to leaders and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives cautioning that “climate change is real and action is urgently needed.” Under leadership including Texas Tech evangelical climatologist Katharine Hayhoe, the scientists argued that “All of God’s creation — humans and our environment — is groaning under the weight of our uncontrolled use of fossil fuels.” They argued that the most serious consequences “will fall disproportionately on those whom Jesus called ‘the least of these’: the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed.”

Not shying-away from public policy advocacy, the self-identified evangelical scientists urged “meaningful legislation during this Congress to reduce carbon emissions and protect our environment.” It’s a request few can imagine actually being fulfilled given well-entrenched and partisan divides on the issue on Capitol Hill.

In a mid-July call with media representatives conducted under the auspices of a Washington, D.C. organization named Sojourner, the scientists acknowledged that they could not put a firm number on how many “evangelical scientists” there actually are in the U.S., and they acknowledged too that their 200 signees included many scientists in disciplines far removed from climatology or related climate fields. In response to questions, they pointed out that scientists and other individuals do not simply categorize themselves as “evangelical,” and they said they felt it was more important to get scores of scientists agreeing with their position than to focus narrowly on evangelical climate scientists. They also were unable to specify particular public health outbreaks that the Sojourner press materials had indicated were linked directly to the unusually warm 2012 summer across much of North America.

‘False Claim, Sleight of Hand’ Alleged

But the scientists are not the only evangelicals recently taking a strong position in defense of climate science and in support of action to control carbon dioxide emissions.

In an open letter responding specifically to Limbaugh, the Reverend Mitchell S. Hescox used the Evangelical Environmental Network’s ‘Creation Care Blog‘ to dismiss the radio broadcaster’s comments as a “false claim as part of a rhetorical sleight of hand wherein you posited a straw-man position.”

“From the beginning we were created to be God’s stewards or caretakers of His creation,” Hescox wrote. “Today, human-induced climate change works against our call to love others and care for God’s creation.” Hescox quoted scripture in arguing that “Being Christian is loving as Christ loves,” and said that Limbaugh’s “recent claim doesn’t reveal love, and therein is the problem.”

…and ‘Moral Turpitude’

While not specifically addressing Limbaugh’s remarks, a leading Mormon scholar, George Handley of Brigham Young University, also recently penned an in-depth piece expressing deep concerns over climate change.

“Deniers relish their minority position; it is, in their minds, a badge of honor,” Handley wrote at the site of LDS Earth Stewardship. “A stubborn minority position can be virtuous, of course, but this is only true if the mainstream is wrong. Otherwise, it is simply moral turpitude.”

Handley pointed to numerous professional science societies’ agreement on key points of climate science: “There are no scientific bodies that purport evidence of any kind on behalf of denialism. None. Zip.”

“Doubts, spin jobs, and anecdotes about unreliability are not scientific evidence,” he wrote (emphasis in original). “We have extraordinary corroboration across a plethora of scientific disciplines” supporting climate scientists, he insisted.

Supporting a more prudent and conservative life style, with less emphasis on materialism, Handley wrote, “What I am suggesting is really quite simple: what will help the climate is already clearly outlined in gospel principles.”

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One Response to Evangelicals, Mormon Scholar Reject Views of Talk-Show Host Rush Limbaugh

  1. Dan Rogers says:

    George Handley from BYU says, “Deniers relish their minority position; it is, in their minds, a badge of honor.”

    I am a “denier” of the proposition that carbon dioxide emissions by humans have any significant effect on the climate, but I certainly don’t think that my denial of that proposition is a “badge of honor.” Honor has nothing to do with my position on that subject. It is a simple matter of logic — and recognizing a snow job when I see one.

    Carbon dioxide is a minuscule part of the atmosphere, and if someone tells me that it is such a powerful greenhouse gas that it essentially controls the Earth’s climate, then that someone, whoever he is, is going to have to prove to me that what he says is true. After all, CO2 is only one of a number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — and a minor one at that compared to water vapour and methane and oxides of nitrogen — and the greenhouse gas effect is not the only physical process which contributes to the warmth of our planet. Proof MUST be provided.

    After years of participation in this debate, the only proof offered to me, over and over again, has been the matching data of the “Keeling curve” showing increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations atop a volcano in Hawaii, and temperature records from various locations around the world showing increasing temperatures in a curve similar to the Keeling curve. One is supposedly compelled to see and compare the two curves and then conclude, without further inquiry, that the increased CO2 concentration in the air has surely caused the increase in atmospheric temperatures. That is supposed to be simple logic. If two things happen at the same time, then one of them must be causing the other one to happen. Simple logic. Any fool can recognize it. And many have.

    George Handley from BYU goes on to say, “A stubborn minority position can be virtuous, of course, but this is only true if the mainstream is wrong. Otherwise, it is simply moral turpitude.”

    That is certainly an astounding statement. Being wrong is immoral!

    Mine is certainly a stubborn minority position, although I really don’t regard it as an immoral position at all. I certainly do not FEEL immoral. Lots of very fine people once tought the Earth is flat, and some still do, but I really don’t think it was or is immoral of them to hold that belief. Badges of honor and badges of morality are not so easily gained and lost. They are not like Nobel Peace Prizes. You can fool people into awarding someone a Nobel Peace Prize, but badges of honor and badges of morality are things you award to yourself, and you cannot fool yourself.

    The planet is warming. The “last” ice age is still with us, and the planet has been growing warmer now for about 20,000 years. We have been aware of this warming trend for many hundreds of years now, and you would think we would be used to it. We should be preparing for the continuation of the trend and not anxiously — and futilely — trying to stop it.