Prominent global warming activist Michael Mann threw down the gauntlet against evangelical Christians this week, calling a distinguished climate scientist and well-known Christian an “evolution denier” while refusing to participate with him in a global warming debate. In the wake of Mann’s unprovoked attack, prominent ‘evangelical’ global warming activists, who target evangelical Christians by claiming to also be evangelicals, declined to stand up for the Christian scientist against Mann’s ugly and unprovoked assault.
Fox News Channel apparently invited Mann to appear on the air and debate climate scientist Roy Spencer on the topic of global warming. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, is one of the most knowledgeable climate scientists in the world. He has been a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, receiving NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Spencer currently holds the position of U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He is frequently invited to testify before Congress and in state legislatures regarding climate science.
Spencer’s scientific research leads him to be skeptical of the assertion that humans are causing a global warming crisis. He is also well-known among climate scientists for being an evangelical Christian.
Mann declined Fox News Channel’s invitation to debate Spencer. Not content to be a gracious invitee, Mann took to his Twitter account to pour out venom at Fox News Channel, Roy Spencer, and Spencer’s religious beliefs. “No, @FoxNews, I’m not interested in ‘debating’ #climatechange and #evolution denier Roy Spencer on your ‘news’ network,” wrote Mann.
Within the global warming debate, it is well understood that calling a global warming skeptic a “denier” is a deliberate attempt to demean and disrespect him or her on a personal level. Global warming skeptics were universally labeled “skeptics” until a handful of particularly aggressive warmists began drawing asserted links between global warming skeptics and “holocaust deniers.” Soon thereafter, the most aggressive warmists lumped the two groups together and began referring to global warming skeptics as “deniers.” Mann was quite aware of the insulting and disrespectful nature of the term when he called Spencer an “evolution denier.” Indeed, shortly after refusing to debate Spencer and calling him an “evolution denier,” Mann punctuated his use of deliberately disrespectful language by tweeting, “Getting on a debate stage signals that, while you might disagree, you respect the position of your opponent.”
The timing of Mann’s gratuitous attack on “evolution denier” Spencer is particularly inconvenient for global warming activists targeting evangelical Christians. Global warming activists have made a concerted effort of late to intensify their targeting of evangelicals.
For example, ‘Creation Care’ advocate Todd Levasseur published a full-length editorial this week in the Charleston Post and Courier arguing that people have a religious obligation to become global warming activists. He wrote, “Maybe it is time for an 11th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not emit greenhouse gases.'”
Global warming activist and self-professed evangelical Katherine Hayhoe will be delivering a talk next week at the University of Kentucky making the case that Christians have a biblical directive to fight global warming. Making a special effort to appeal to evangelicals, Hayhoe recently wrote, “[D]oesn’t climate change mean that we have to believe in evolution and a four-billion-year-old Earth? Not at all.”
Expecting self-professed ‘evangelical’ warmists to stand up for Spencer after the Christian scientist was gratuitously attacked by their warmist colleagues, I reached out to more than a dozen self-professed evangelicals who signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” To my surprise, not a single one would stand up for Spencer against Mann’s attack.
The closest any of these signatories came to defending Spencer was Ft. Myers, Florida, pastor John Daugherty. Declining to directly address Mann or Spencer by name, Daugherty vaguely asserted it is “unfortunate” that there is “name calling on both sides.”
Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, expressed disappointment not at the gratuitous nature of Mann’s attack on a fellow evangelical, but that the gratuitous attack might make it more difficult for Mann’s point of view to prevail over Spencer’s. “[I]t is counter-productive to dismiss or denigrate these religious believers, or for that matter the science denialists who believe in Intelligent Design. It plays right into the hands of climate denialists who want a culture war.”
It seems that Cizik, with his frequent use of the deliberately insulting term “denialists,” did not get Daugherty’s memo about name-calling.
Hayhoe, incidentally, recently appeared with Mann at the Commonwealth Club of California. When the moderator at the Club brought up the topic of Mann’s much-criticized conduct as a central figure in the Climategate scandal, Hayhoe eagerly came to fellow warmist Mann’s defense. She also talked about the importance of speaking up for what is right, even when it is unpopular. “We have a responsibility. … If we hold silent on it, who will speak?” asked Hayhoe. To date, Hayhoe has declined to stand up for fellow evangelical Spencer.
All of this leads one to wonder just how sincere self-professed ‘evangelical’ global warming activists are in their assertion of commonality with the evangelicals they target with their global warming activism. Levasseur spent more time ranting about the “petty, short-sighted politics and disinformation campaigns funded by the Koch Brothers and Big Oil” than he did talking about the attributes of God. Cizik counter-protests people at anti-abortion rallies by carrying a placard that says “Stop mercury poisoning of the unborn.” Hayhoe waxes poetic about the “communal” mindset in her native Canada while expressing regret that Americans start “thinking back to 1776” when they hear warmists advocate higher taxation and more government control. Rational people can have different points of view on each of these issues, but these identity-defining positions by ‘evangelical’ warmists do not appear to be in keeping with most American evangelicals.
Perhaps all of these ‘evangelical’ warmists truly are evangelicals. If they are, however, they are clearly a different strain of evangelical than the evangelicals they are targeting with their global warming activism. And they seem much more inclined to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with global warming activists throwing venom at people of faith than they are to stand with evangelicals caught up in the warmists’ wrath.
[First published at Forbes]