Fracking pipeline and other controversies

By Richard Nelson

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November 7, 2013

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An article in Wednesday’s edition of the Louisville Courier Journal titled “Protestors cite faith in opposing Bluegrass Pipeline” is interesting on a number of levels. Conservative Christians were conspicuously absent from the protest which consisted of 40 people on the capitol steps. It’s laudable that some of the Christian communities are actively engaging in policy discussions over care of the environment. After all they have a mandate from God to be caretakers of creation. But in the same place the stewardship mandate is found (Genesis 1:28, 2:15) is the mandate to rule over the earth. Both are inextricably linked; a package deal if you will. Neglect of either obligation undercuts any moral authority they appeal to, which brings me to the group behind the petition efforts.

Faithful America—the group responsible for collecting 36,000 signatures in opposition to the pipeline, appeals to Scripture to care for the earth. However, they take a sharp left turn and undermine the same Scriptures when it comes to the biblical understanding of human sexuality and ordering of human relationships. Faithful America has another petition drive critical of the Methodist Church which may defrock pastors who are performing gay weddings. They’ve labeled conservative Christians who are opposed to open homosexuality as “haters,” and called for the resignation of conservative Catholic Bishop Timothy Dolan.

What is lost in this battle for the moral high ground over this corner of creation we call Kentucky is that once mankind disregards The Rules for how it conducts itself, it loses the authority to tell others how to treat the earth. Moral relativism meet Wild West.

Faithful America is right in that the church has something to say about how people should treat God’s creation but where is its voice when talking about human sexual conduct? If sexual rules are relaxed within our species, how can one tell a corporation they should not rape the earth? For sexual license and sexual violation are two sides of the same coin. Both are called sins in the Bible.

The Bluegrass Pipeline is more controversial because it is moving fracked gas from Pennsylvania. Faithful America’s website petition says “Stand with Sisters against dangerous fracking pipeline.” Once in the pipeline, fracked gas is no more dangerous than gas recovered via conventional methods.  So really opponents are miffed over the controversial extraction method—methods which may potentially cause groundwater and air pollution, and be responsible for small earthquakes. On the other hand, fracking has created many jobs, provided cheaper energy and moving our nation toward energy independence. So who’s right?

Romans 8:19 says “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” May both the religious right and left come to the table to discuss this issue. Perhaps they’ll reject buffet-style Biblical morality that discards the meat and leaves bystanders choking on the bones, leaving both humanity and the environment worse off. May God help us.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center