Politicians want to be loved. So do church leaders. But for that to happen, they have to be seen as being effective.
But life in the 21st century is complicated and most politicians and church leaders of whatever faith really can't figure out what to do about the major issues confronting their organizations. So rather than confront their constituencies with the mandates of their traditional missions, they pick something easy and popular to do, in the assumption that it will be easy to accomplish and make them popular. And it often isn't.
Most politicians who get to the national level in Washington all of a sudden realize that the President holds all the cards and there's not much they can do. So they pick issues popular with the home folks like education, something not specifically authorized by the Constitution, and mess it up even more.
Politicians at the state levels discover that their governors, a few committee heads and strong local interests hold all the cards so they meddle in local governmental activities where many of them got their starts.
Religious leaders in a society that largely has decided that it will accept God on its own terms, ("So don't preach to me about sin, Father, I don't believe in it") have been searching for an issue to make themselves more popular.
Global Warming seems to be the issue they have agreed on.
The Star Tribune has an item today on this new focus for the state's religious bodies.
God is great, God is green
How many religious people does it take to change a light bulb?
Forget about one traditional snappy answer -- Why does it need to be changed? That's so last-millennium.
Across America, people of faith are taking the lead in the national conversation about global warming. To them, climate change is no joke, it's a moral imperative. Jews, Roman Catholics, Protestants and evangelicals are sermonizing about threats to God's green Earth, holding energy-reduction fairs and competitions, lobbying for lower carbon-dioxide emissions and broader use of wind power and biofuels, screwing energy-efficient bulbs into menorahs and installing solar panels next to the steeple.
This week, Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Bishop Craig Johnson of the Minneapolis synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined polar explorer Will Steger and Minnesota scientists at the Capitol, where they called for action against pollution that can cause global warming.
In October, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis launched a parish-based effort to find practical solutions to climate change. Speakers at the kickoff event included Steger, whose speeches about global warming have been packing churches and synagogues.
"We've been surprised and pleased at the level of interest," said Matt Rezac of the Office for Social Justice, a division of the archdiocese's Catholic Charities. "It ranges from parishes such as St. Joan of Arc that were already deeply involved to small ones where just a couple of people are working to educate a congregation."
Michael Stoner, 29, a mechanical engineer from Eden Prairie whose passion about the environment inspires him to bike to work every day, helped create the Environmental Challenge Ministry at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie.
Said Stoner: "As Catholics, we believe in social justice. Poor people in the developing world don't have the technology to adapt to climate change. For us not to do something when it's our pollution causing the problem would be wrong." [....snip] StarTribune