Buzzing its way through the British media is the recent announcement that three Christian faith-based organizations have joined together with 14 “traditional” environmentalist groups in order to guilt Downing Street into reducing its CO2 emissions. “Stop Climate Chaos” brings together the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Christian Aid and the evangelical organization Tearfund with groups such as Greenpeace and the WWF for one-stop activist shopping.
That Christians across the pond are now so scared for the future they are willing to work with tree huggers, stoners, and perhaps a lesbian or two to prevent the destruction of God’s green Earth is definitely news. But without even brief mention of the issues that will inevitably come up with the pairing of these seemingly very different groups, BBC reporter Richard Black and his counterparts at other news outlets missed out on what could have been an insightful story. Simply addressing how these organizations differ ideologically or what challenges their pairing may bring would have been a good start. Is it practical for organizations with radically different views on almost every other issue to sustain a cohesive message?
The BBC’s Black also neglects to describe the degree to which the groups are supposedly “uniting.” Are they simply cosigning a few documents, or are members of Greenpeace and Tearfund sitting around a campfire eating vegan chili and putting on Christian puppet shows? The reader is left with little idea of why the addition of Christian-based groups into the movement will make any difference.
The closest Black gets to analysis is when he speculates that the involvement of Christian groups will bring “a new moral dimension to debates on climate change” — an oversimplification that suggests that only religious groups can be moral while the enviros are just out saving dolphins from tuna nets because it’s a great way to meet chicks.
In their defense, the Brits are not the only ones to fall into the trap of simplification and staying in the shallow end.Religious groups in United States have been teaming up with other environmentalists for quite a while, yet we have yet to see any truly thoughtful pieces about what happens when they come together.
Black, like many others, missed the mark. The result — very good PR disguised as a very average story.