Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, the only Catholic lobbying group at the United Nations in New York, reports that there are a number of troubling groups circling around the UN. One such group is fairly new and as yet little-reported movement called the United Religious Initiative (URI), now active in 58 countries and 33 states in the U.S. It has been described as "an exclusive, decentralized organization, a spiritual partner of the United Nations." URI positions support population control, environmental extremism, and are radical on sexual matters. A new document signed by URI's President Reverend Charles Gibbs called The Religious Declaration in Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, opposes "unsustainable" population growth and supports homosexual marriage, artificial contraception and abortion. There is a heavy emphasis on New Age ideology in the URI, and many of its strongest proponents are New Age writers and thinkers such as former UN official Robert Muller and writer Neal Donald Walsh. URI and its supporters consider the presence of "fundamentalists" as a major stumbling block. Muller says the UN should lead "vigorous actions" against "religious fundamentalism." The Vatican promotes religious ecumenism but disapproves of URI. "Religious syncretism is a theological error. That is why the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue does not approve of the United Religions Initiative and does not work with it." [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Friday Fax, July 21, 2000]
Other evidence of strange alliances is the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), composed of several large religious bodies: the National Council of Churches, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Evangelical Environmental Network. In May of last year, the NRPE announced a ten-year $16 million initiative designed to "assure that the next generation of religious leaders in America advance care for God's creation as a central priority for organized religion." Planners encourage church sermons that condemn the use of fossil fuels. Clergy are being instructed to tell the members of their congregations that they have a moral obligation to support the policies advanced by the environmental movement. It is suggested that affluence is like influenza a disease ("affluenza"). ["Saving Faith From The Environmentalists, Acton Institute," Eco-Logic, Spring 2000] Although not a full partner, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is identified in a special consultative relationship, and the NRPE has established an office in the UCS headquarters. The NRPE has mailed "education and action kits" to thousands of religious congregations.
The education kits contain resources on environmental issues that have been distributed to thousands of churches, including every Catholic parish in the U.S. Each kit contains a reader entitled "And God Saw That It Was Good" produced by the NRPE/USCC, and a video entitled Renewing The Face Of The Earth, produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The video contains images that are manipulative: animals are depicted as cute or majestic, the scenery is beautiful and contrasted to pictures of human overcrowding, pollution, bulldozing, etc. The video also espouses a revisionist Scripture Noah's flood is retold in such a way that the flood is not a punishment of God for sin, but an environmental issue concerning "preservation of the species"; a passage in Genesis is translated as "Adam was asked to serve the garden." Resource Kit #1 appears to provide a confession of environmental sins: "How many species must we abuse and extinguish. . . for our sins and failings, O God, we ask forgiveness."
Resource Kit #2 includes two disturbing articles: the first one, "Environmental Hazards and Children Born and Unborn," attempts to draw on the moral outrage against abortion and apply it to pollution. The second article, "Naysayers and Doomsayers," asserts that truth is determined by consensus and strongly politicizes science.
Resource Kit #3 suggests a "Call to Solidarity and Global Environmental Stewardship". . . "the church has as one of its primary functions the educative role of helping believers and other people of good will form their consciences so that they can see environmental issues as having a moral content." [Commentary on the U.S. Catholic Conference, "The Environment" by Stephanie Block, Wanderer Forum Foundation, Winter 2000]
The National Religious Partnership for the Environment is highly organized. The education and action kits are prepared for each denomination; sermons and Sunday school materials are written to fit into the individual church and orthodoxy; religious leaders from churches across the country are brought into training seminars; summit meetings are held; environmental curriculum has been prepared. They are covering all the bases to force the Partnership's ideology into all aspects of Christian/Jewish thought and action. Most of the pastors, priests and rabbis who respond to the NRPE probably believe they are taking responsible action to help protect the environment, but NRPE materials and goals do not accurately represent the relationship between mankind, nature and God, and present highly controversial perspectives as scientific "facts." Therefore, it seems imprudent for these large religious bodies to collaborate with the NRPE. Forcing environmental issues into a spiritual package requires churches to scrutinize the information for doctrinal validity. [Commentary on the USCC, Stephanie Block, WFF]
Paul Gorman, Executive Director of the NRPE, says, "How people of faith engage the environmental crisis will have much to do with the future well-being of the planet, and, in all likelihood, with the future of religious life as well." [Insider's Report, "Radical Greens" by Tom DeWeese, published by American Policy Center, October 1998, Vol. 5] Gorman's church, New York City's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is the secretarial office of the NRPE the home of the Temple of Understanding and the Gaia Institute, an earth-worshipping pagan "religion" called Gaia. The main objective is the transformation of social order into a global society organized around the notion that the earth itself is the giver of life, and that all of the world's religions are evolving into a state of enlightenment, which recognizes Gaia as the true source of life and spirituality
Earth Day is becoming an almost-holy day with the Green Theologists. Samantha Smith, the reliable author of The Trojan Horse and Goddess Earth, attended an Earth Day celebration in April 1995 sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas and the Stewardship Office of the Episcopal Church, and offered these observations:
"A North American Indian prayed to God, then prayed to the Grandfather Spirit and to spirits of the Four Directions to bless the earth and oversee the Conference;
"California Senator Tom Hayden offered an Earth Day prayer, claiming the earth was speaking through him. Celebrate that ancient spirits are born again in us, spirits of eagle vision, of coyote craft, of bear stewardship, of buffalo wisdom, of ancient goddesses, of druids. . .
"An entertainer explained that he had gone into a forest and taped exchanges of howls between his saxophone and a wolf. With his sax he demonstrated the sound, then asked the audience to join him in a 'Howl-le-lu-ia Chorus.' Nearly 200 people howled back, expressing their oneness with the wolf." [Samantha Smith, "The Pagan Howl-le-lu-ia Chorus," The Eagle Forum, Winter 1995, Vol. 15]
These are the people who are helping to create the material delivered to thousands of churches in America.
Another controversial figure is Reverend Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest, friend and mentor of the discredited Matthew Fox, and a devotee of evolutionist Teilhard de Chardin. He is the author of The Universe Story, which explores a "natural theology" of and Dream of the Earth in which he never uses the word "God" but instead refers to a supernatural force in the universe. The Florida Catholic describes Berry as "perhaps the leading figure in the movement to preserve the environment." The newspaper's February 14, 1992 issue quotes Berry: "We must rethink our ideas about God, we should place less emphasis on Christ as a person and redeemer. We should put the Bible away for twenty years while we radically rethink our religious ideas." Berry contends that Christianity promotes "deep cultural pathology of human greed and addiction." He claims the earth is disintegrating and that Christianity is mostly to blame. He believes that we are entering an era of "earth consciousness" and he boasts of a new era he calls the "Ecozoic Age" that will transcend God. Berry contends that, "the world is being called to a new post-denominational, even post-Christian belief system that sees the earth as a living being mythologically as Gaia, Mother Earth with mankind as her consciousness."
Also involved in the Temple of Understanding, which is an official UN non-governmental organization (NGO), is Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of the 1993 UN Earth Summit, and number two man at the United Nations. Strong owns a ranch, called the "Baca Grande" in Colorado where he built a Babylonian sun-god temple. The ranch is a hotbed of a variety of New Age religious activities and has become a mecca for mystics. Strong is also a prime mover in the World Peace Summit, which has its roots in the World Parliament of Religions.
Strong is also active in the controversial Earth Charter, a project of Communist leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Steven Rockefeller, which proponents have dubbed "a new Ten Commandments." Henry Lamb, editor of Eco-Logic magazine, states that instead of protecting the earth for future generations, the Earth Charter protects resources from human use. Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum, calls it a charter for submission to global dictators possessing unprecedented powers. Among the Charter's demands are: United Nations management of water, soil, forest products and marine life; universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health; efficiency and restraint when using energy; eradication of poverty; equitable distribution of wealth within and among nations; gender equality and elimination of discrimination in sexual orientation; and demilitarization of national security systems. (See the September 2000 Mindszenty Report.)
World Peace Summit
The World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held four days of meetings at the United Nations in late summer. Some delegates complained of only a token presence of Christians and Muslims. Notably absent was the Dalai Lama, Spiritual Leader of Tibetan Buddhists, who was not invited because of pressure from Chinese delegates. After public outcry, he was invited to attend the final two days, but he declined that offer. When a Tibetan representative read a prepared statement to the assembly on his behalf, the delegation from China walked out of the room. Another noticeable snub was the exclusion of several prominent Christian groups including the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Father Matthew Habiger, President of Human Life International the world's largest pro-life, pro-family, pro-faith organization called the Peace Summit". . . nothing more than another attempt by another international bureaucracy to undermine the faith and culture of Christians." [Metro Voice, St. Louis, MO, October 2000] An icy reception was given to the Patriarch of Ethiopia, who urged protection for unborn children, and the same reception greeted an official who urged delegates to recognize only marriage between a man and a woman and denounced all abnormal sexual activities.
Billionaire media mogul Ted Turner addressed the cheering delegates and immediately denounced the Christianity of his boyhood. Turner is known for a number of past intemperate remarks, such as: ". . . people who abhor the China one-child policy are dumb-dumbs," and referring to his five children, said: "If I were doing it over again, I wouldn't have done it, but I can't shoot them now that they're here." Turner is most remembered by Christians for calling anti-abortionists "bozos" and saying that "Christianity is a religion for losers." He has also coined his version of the Ten Commandments, calling them the "Ted Commandments." Command #1 states: "I love and respect the planet Earth, and all living things thereon, especially my fellow species, mankind." [Christian News, September 21, 1998]
One document produced, "The Commitment to Global Peace," calls for regional and global pursuit of peace, a world free of violence, and reversing the gap between rich and poor. Another document, "The United Nations Millennium Declaration," contains six general principles: freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature ("precepts of sustainable development" which includes population control and central control of economic activity) and shared responsibility (M. Gorbachev and billionaire George Soros called for a central authority to run the world's economy).
The Declaration did reiterate the importance of national sovereignty stating, "We rededicate ourselves to support all efforts to uphold the sovereign equality of all states, respect for their territorial integrity and political independence," even though UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says that human rights should trump national sovereignty in deciding coercive intervention. Good News: the Summit has no power of its own, and will send its declarations on to the UN General Assembly for its consideration. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Friday Fax, September 8, 2000]
What Can We Do?
Be alert to these inroads in your church, and to the influence this can have on the politicians who make our laws.
Also, we urge our readers to avail themselves of the many excellent publications on the environmental issues, and especially to look toward the positive Christian responses to stewardship. The starting point is the Book of Genesis, with God as the source of creation, and man by virtue of his created nature as a steward. The Acton Institute of Grand Rapids, Michigan, under the leadership of Reverend Robert Sirico, along with the newly formed Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship, has formulated the Cornwall Declaration designed to articulate a vision of environmental stewardship which employs sound theological reflection, honest scientific inquiry and rigorous economic thinking. To lay the groundwork for this effort, a number of theologians and experts met in West Cornwall, CT and formulated the Cornwall Declaration, which has been described by Earthkeeping News as "the most significant contribution of religious conservatives to the debate over environmental policy since the movement first emerged in the late 1970s."
The Declaration is an interfaith statement expressing common concerns, beliefs and aspirations about environmental stewardship. It has been endorsed by thousands of individuals, and more endorsement signatures are sought, especially from clergy and religious scholars. To obtain a copy of the Cornwall Declaration, contact the Acton Institute, 161 Ottawa Avenue, NW; Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone: (616) 452-3080; website: www.acton.org.
This item 3696 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org