Environmental Stewardship and Religion – POSTPONED

April 18, 6:30-8:30pm; buffet opens at 6:15pm.

Rose Library, 3rd Floor Flex Space

In recent years, conservative Protestant Christians have been the American group that is the most likely to be against environmental protection efforts.  Demographics do not seem to account for this; rather, the opposition appears to stem from religious positions.

When viewed from a broader, comparative religions perspective, it quickly becomes clear that the very concept of ‘nature’ is culturally constructed, and that American Christianity draws on particular interpretations of the biblical depiction of ‘nature.’  Although the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament promotes a clear and consistent ethic of environmental stewardship, some denominations of Christianity interpret the passages differently, stressing humankind’s dominion over the earth.  When combined with apocalyptic theologies that envision an imminent new world that is fast approaching, there may be little interest in, or even strident opposition to, efforts to address problems such as global warming, species decimation, or air or water quality.  However, the influence of apocalyptic theology does not necessarily determine this outcome; within American evangelical Christianity itself, apocalyptic millennarian hopes have sometimes fused with theology that extols and wishes to protect ‘nature.’ Public policy discussions and efforts about environmental issues have at times alienated and at other times invited action from evangelical leaders.

Speakers:

Frances Flannery, Associate Professor, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion

Brian Kaylor, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Studies

Speaker Bios:

Frances Flannery, Associate Professor, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, has been at JMU since 2007.  She has authored and edited numerous books and articles on ancient and contemporary apocalypticism, including religious terrorism, and is beginning to revisit her undergraduate training and first career in Environmental Science in conjunction with religious studies.

Brian Kaylor, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Studies, has been at JMU since 2008. His main research areas are religion and politics, including environmental advocacy. He is the author of two books and more than two dozen journal articles.

Sources:

Catherine Albanese, Nature Religion in America, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, “Overview of World Religions and Ecology,” The Forum on Religion and Ecology 2009. http://fore.research.yale.edu/religion/index.html. 13 January 2013.

United Nations Environment Programme, “An Examination of the Views of Religious Organizations Regarding Global Warming,” The Forum on Religion and Ecology, 7 June, 2007. Web.   http://fore.research.yale.edu/publications/massmedia.  13 January 2013.

Oppositional evangelical statements on the environment: the National Association of Evangelicals (http://www.nae.net/lovingtheleastofthese) & the Cornwall Alliance (http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/the-cornwall-declaration-on-environmental-stewardship)