‘Ark Park’ Malarkey: The Religious Right Has Not Gone Green

"Our role as followers of Jesus isn't to scare people. We choose hope over fear.” --Sheldon C. Good, Mennonite Weekly Review

Has the Religious Right gone green?

Washington Post writer Philip Kennicott seems to think so. In an article in the Post “Style” section today, he waxes ecstatic over the fact that Kentucky’s proposed “Ark Park “ is going to be built in an environmentally friendly manner.  Apparently the fundamentalist facility, which envisions a full-size recreation of Noah’s Ark and other biblically based amusements, will be constructed in keeping with “green architecture.”

I think the Post’s Kennicott is making far too much of this. It’s true that many evangelical Christians have joined the move to protect the Earth from environmental disaster. But Answers in Genesis – the Ark Park’s driving force -- and other heavy hitters of the Religious Right are not among them.

In fact, according to a recent report in the Christian Post, an alliance of high-powered Religious Right activists “have collaborated to condemn the radical environmentalism movement in a 12-part video series.  The series, called ‘Resisting the Green Dragon,’ features criticisms of the green movement which religious leaders contend is a false religion that puts nature above people.”

The Cornwall Alliance draws its support from groups such as the American Family Association (AFA), the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family (FOTF). According to the Christian Post, the new videos feature FRC President Tony Perkins, FOTF’s Tom Minnery, Southern Baptist lobbyist Richard Land, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright and Summit Ministries founder Dr. David Noebel. ("Christian nation" propagandist  David Barton, the AFA's Bryan Fischer and homeschooling guru Michael Farris are also on board.)

Evangelicals who actually care about the environment are alarmed at the Cornwall maneuver.

In a Huffington Post essay, Sheldon C. Good says , “The DVD likens environmentalism to a green dragon – the fearsome, fire-breathing serpent-like creature of folklore. But our role as followers of Jesus isn't to scare people. We choose hope over fear.”

Good, assistant editor of the Mennonite Weekly Review, adds, “The Green Dragon video promotes false dichotomies such as religion vs. science, care for creation vs. care for the poor, the way of Jesus vs. environmentalism. None of these actually are enemies. While neither science nor faith can answer every question, it's a perversion of the Gospel to pit them against each other -- an insult to environmentalists motivated by faith to care for God's Earth.”

Other evangelicals note that Answers in Genesis has hardly been environmentally friendly in the past.

Says Jonathan Merritt, “[AIG’s] website calls Earth Day "a religious service for the New Age movement" that is "often based on evolutionary thinking." He notes that AIG produced a 2008 DVD titled, "Global Warming: A Scientific and Biblical Expose of Climate Change," which calls the idea that the earth is warming "misinformation" and a "myth."

Merritt, author of the book Green Like God, said the AIG folks are old-school fundamentalists who think Christians have a mandate from God to take “dominion” over everything on Earth.

AIG’s Mike Zovath told The Washington Post that his group proposed an energy-efficient “Ark Park” in part because it represents “a pretty significant return on investment."

So that’s it. They haven’t gone green; they’re trying to make some green – greenbacks, that is. In addition to hitting up the government for constitutionally dubious tax incentives for their religious ministry, they’re looking for other ways to make some dough.

Now that’s the Religious Right we have all come to know and loathe.