Worshipping Gaia

Published April 1, 2000

Although a federal court recently dismissed a suit brought against the Forest Service and environmentalists for creating a state-sponsored religion in the form of “deep Ecology,” there is substantial reason to believe that either the court was in error or the suit was inadequately brought.

Earth worship, today practiced by “deep ecologists” and supported by such federal agencies as the Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.

In ancient England, the Druids practiced a form of Earth worship now known as pantheism, resurrected a number of years ago in the form of Gaian Theory. The theory attracted a cult following with the publication of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. There, Asimov offered up the “I, we, Gaia” concept, suggesting that all dust, dirt, animals, plants, and people were in fact separate parts of a single living entity. That amorphous entity–Gaia–was also god.

In a nutshell, that is what the deep ecologists to believe . . . and if that isn’t a religion, it is difficult to conceive of what is.

Today, the religion is advanced by Fenton Communications, which gave us the phony Alar scare in the late 1980s, and an unlikely alliance dubbed the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE). NRPE members include the U.S. National Catholic Conference, the National Council of Churches of Christ, the Coalition on the Environmental and Jewish Life, and the Evangelical Environmental Network–some of whose members would, presumably, be surprised to learn they have been worshiping the wrong deity all their lives.

Though NRPE claims that “. . . caring for creation is a fundamentally religious imperative that transcends denominational differences and partisan politics,” Father Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, strongly disagrees.

Sirico contends that, despite their disclaimers, NRPE and Fenton Communications are in fact pursuing an overt political agenda signaling the emergence of a movement that is attempting to link religion, politics, and environmental extremism.

In fact, this is exactly what was done in one of NRPE’s founding documents, “An open letter to the religious community: 1990.” Written not by theologians but a group of scientists, including the late Dr. Carl Sagan, the letter is a strident denunciation of mankind, an emotional call for atonement for our “ecological sins.” The piece is totally lacking in scientific principle but long on religion, reading much like the ravings of the Unabomber and Dave Foreman, founder of Earth First! and the Wildlands Project.

In a more recent linking of religion, politics, and environmental extremism, Vice President Al Gore wrote in his book, Earth in the Balance:

“. . . the more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for the lack of a better word, spiritual.”