Category Archives: Policy

Why is the Electoral College a Concern for Earth-Keepers?

What we Americans think about the Electoral College is – now as always – almost certainly driven by what it does to our party’s electoral prospects. This year, Trump won the Electoral College, but millions more people voted for Clinton. So it’s almost certainly predictable: If we went for Trump, then we’re for the Electoral College; if we preferred Clinton, we hate it.

But for earth keepers, the arguments for and against Electoral College are pretty serious concerns. That’s because a strong majority of Americans are concerned about God’s creation and threats to its health and survival. About two-thirds of us now say we’re worried about climate change. Lopsided majorities of Democrats feel strongly about climate action. About half of Republicans agree. And yet, our electoral system has given us a president elect who calls climate change a hoax and “bullsh**.” He’s sworn to reverse his predecessor’s environmental policies, and to disrupt the global climate agreement sealed in Paris last year among 195 nations. He’s stacked his cabinet with fossil-fuel advocates, even picking the chairman of the world’s biggest oil company for its most powerful position – Secretary of State.

So no matter which party we might like best – or dislike least – it’s worth asking honestly if this is really what democracy looks like. Does the Electoral College really make sense? Much has been written about the Electoral College’s roots in slave-holding states, and these accounts can be useful for historians. But let’s not even go there. Today, does a system like the Electoral College make sense for any of the world’s democracies? Here are some factors to consider.

The Electoral College makes Presidential voting almost meaningless for most Americans

“Sure I’d vote, but I’m from California.”

You’ve heard something like this from your friends in solid-Red or solid-Blue states before, haven’t you? What difference did it make if I pulled the lever for Hillary or Trump in New York, Texas, Indiana or Illinois? Let alone California? All those states are going solidly one way or the other. In fact, 30 states representing 320 Electoral College votes are all considered solid for one party or the other (see complete list below). Presidential candidates don’t campaign in those states; they don’t listen to voters there; they don’t bother getting out the vote there. And once elected, they don’t lose much sleep over the interests of those citizens either.

Real Clear Politics highlights president-deciding states in gray.

If you’re among the huge majority of Americans living in one of these non-swing states, presidential democracy is a spectator event for you. You’re not part of the conversation. Instead, you’re just watching voters in 14 “swing states” to see what they’ll do to choose the next president. Thanks for your interest, but voters in Florida will handle this one for you. And in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia (plus seven other small states).

So we lament low voter turnout in our country, but ignore the obvious: Our system removes most of the incentives for going to the polls. It’s the Electoral College, folks.

The Electoral College makes my vote count more than your vote

In the U.S. we have about one elector for every 600,000 people. Californians have a somewhat worse deal. Their 38 million people have only one elector for every 692,000 people. Those extra 92,000 Californians for each elector simply don’t count. With 55 electoral votes, that’s about five million Californians who really don’t matter. Too bad for California.

But North Dakota has a much sweeter deal. Of course, their tiny population – smaller than the cities of Charlotte or Columbus – gets to send two Senators to Washington. Good for them. But their presidential votes also have an outsized impact. They get one elector for every 250,000 people. That’s huge. One vote in North Dakota is worth about three votes in California. (Actually, about 2.7 votes.) But would anyone ever design a system like that in a modern democracy?

The Electoral College hands unelected officials the keys to the presidency

On Monday, the Electoral College convened to cast their votes, sealing the win for Donald Trump, as expected. But Trump and Clinton weren’t the only ones who tallied votes. John Kasich got a vote. So did the aging libertarian, Ron Paul. Retired Secretary of State Colin Powell got three votes, even though he was never a candidate. Finally, Bernie Sanders and tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle each notched a vote.

The electors who cast votes like these have traditionally been called “faithless electors.” They may be faithless, but there’s nothing illegal or even reprehensible about what they’ve done. In fact, many Americans were hoping for a revolt this year, banking upon the Electoral College to nullify the election results. It didn’t happen, of course, nor has it overturned an election during our country’s history. But this year’s election warns us that precedent means very little in our day. We could easily see the day when large numbers of electors decide to thwart the will of voters. This would be perfectly legal.

It will take a transformation of heart among Americans for us to take our place among the nations in caring for God’s creation. But for starters, why don’t we take another look at how we choose our most important officials? Maybe we should consider something a little more like, well, democracy?

Solid Blue:

  • California (55)
  • New York (29)
  • Illinois (20)
  • New Jersey (14)
  • Washington (12)
  • Massachusetts (11)
  • Maryland (10)
  • Hawaii (4)
  • Rhode Island (4)
  • Vermont (3)
  • District Of Columbia (3)
  • Delaware (3)

Solid Red:

  • Texas (38)
  • Indiana (11)
  • Tennessee (11)
  • Missouri (10)
  • Alabama (9)
  • Louisiana (8)
  • Kentucky (8)
  • Oklahoma (7)
  • Mississippi (6)
  • Arkansas (6)
  • Utah (6)
  • Kansas (6)
  • West Virginia (5)
  • Nebraska (4)
  • Idaho (4)
  • North Dakota (3)
  • Montana (3)
  • South Dakota (3)
  • Alaska (3)
  • Nebraska CD2 (1)

China Poised to Lap U.S. in Race for Climate Leadership

 

This morning, we woke up to the news that President-elect Donald Trump had nominated former Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy. Social media was instantly abuzz with the irony: In the 2012 Republican primary, candidate Perry had vowed to kill this very agency, although he infamously couldn’t remember its name.

Next came comparisons to the two most recent energy secretaries: Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate physicist, and Ernest J. Moniz, a distinguished nuclear physicist from M.I.T. By contrast, Perry was his class “social secretary” and “Yell Leader” at Texas A&M, on the way to earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

But Perry’s nomination is particularly notable in light of the current episode of “Years of Living Dangerously,” which premieres tonight on the National Geographic Channel. With help from Sigourney Weaver and America Ferrera, “Years” examines the diverging climate-response paths of the world’s two largest polluters – China and the US.

Latest episode compares climate responses in U.S. and China

Viewers may be surprised to learn that China is taking enormous steps in transforming its economy onto a post-carbon footing. Whatever we may think about the alleged “War on Coal” here in the States, China makes no bones about it. Just last year, China abandoned construction on thirty new coal plants. Together, those plants would have had a greater generating capacity than all of Great Britain. And they’ve become the largest worldwide producer of solar electric power.

By contrast with A&M “social-secretary” Perry, China has entrusted its energy program to Premier Li Keqiang, the second most senior leader in China, ranked by Forbes as the 12th “Most Powerful Person” in the world.

How are they doing it? “Years” explores China’s new carbon “cap & trade” program which is being rolled out nationwide next year. The CEO of China Power & Light offered Weaver a perspective echoed by virtually everyone she spoke to: “I actually welcome the clarity brought about by a price on carbon. It makes our job much easier….”

Back in the U.S., actor America Ferrera explores a very different struggle. Where pollution is unpriced, it is the poor and powerless who suffer the worst impacts – respiratory diseases and other ills. Ferrera’s trail takes her to Waukegan, Illinois, where one of the oldest coal-fired power plants in the country stands cheek-to-jowl with a Latino and African-American community. In Waukegan, one-third of all children suffer from asthma.

Ferrera follows a citizen action group seeking desperately to address municipal leaders and the plant’s corporate owner, NRG Energy. They’re seeking relief from the pollution that is sickening their community. And we feel the maddening frustration of citizen activists rebuffed by a wall of rejection from those in power. Even their cleverest strategy, becoming small shareholders and packing the NRG annual meeting, produces only empty promises that the CEO will visit Waukegan at some future date.

But in fact, the Waukegan story is repeated in study after study across the US. The United Church of Christ has found over more than 20 years that racial minorities and poorer communities comprise the majority of populations living near hazardous waste facilities. The University of Pennsylvania has shown that African-American communities are twice as likely to suffer toxic accidents as in other places. And UCLA  found that low-income and minority children are disproportionately exposed to hazardous vehicle exhaust. Poor kids and children of color – these are the ones who get the asthma and emphysema, and who live with hazardous toxins.

Waukegan Generating Station.   Source: Midwest Energy News

Despite this depressing tale, we take some real hope from the nexus of today’s news about Gov. Perry and the narrative explored by “Years.”

First, China is moving ahead aggressively on climate, and is becoming the world leader in clean energy. Of course, we all benefit from a world with fewer greenhouse gases, no matter where we live. But of equal importance, competitive impulses will surely lead the US eventually to take steps to salvage some leadership in the energy of the future, rather than squeezing every penny from an aging oil industry.

And second, the looming prospect of an American petro-state cabinet typified by Perry at Energy, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson at State, and Oklahoma oil champion Scott Pruitt at EPA stands to spur citizen action groups – like those in Waukegan – in every community.

It’s time for citizens to demand that our leaders assert our country’s greatness by moving forward into the clean economy that the world desperately needs. And in the process, to hear the cries – and wheezes – of our neighbors in poorer communities. Maybe then, we can call ourselves “great” again.

You Were Hoping Trump Might be Climate-Smart?

You didn’t like the stuff about Mexican rapists. You were unsettled about registering people because of their religious beliefs. You didn’t like forcing American soldiers to torture our prisoners, murder our enemies’ families or lauch first-strike nuclear weapons. And the other stuff: the birther conspiracy, grabbing women by the genitals, cheating on all the wives, operating strip clubs and casinos….

But you never heard him say that he was going to destroy the climate system that your kids would have to survive in. Sure, you saw his Tweets about the Chinese climate change conspiracy, and how he called climate science “bull***t.” But that was mostly years ago. And he sort of reeled it back in one of the debates.

And so you were sort of hopeful. Give him a chance, right? Well, have you noticed the central theme of his proposed Cabinet and top advisers?

  • Steve Bannon, Senior Advisor: He led Breitbart to routinely dismiss climate change as a hoax and denigrated everyone who advocated reducing carbon pollution.
  • Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff: Has called the Nobel-laureate UN climate science panel “a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution.” He says that Trump regards most climate science as “a bunch of bunk.”
  • Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State: Chairman of the world’s largest fossil-fuel company, ExxonMobil, which is currently being investigated for suppressing its own climate research and funding climate denial front groups.
  • Jeff Sessions, Attorney General: One of the most extreme congressional climate deniers, Sessions has repeatedly questioned climate change and voted against climate action.
  • Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA: Called the worldwide Paris Agreement to combat climate change as a “radical climate change deal.”
  • Nikki Haley, United Nations ambassador: Led South Carolina to sue the EPA to block the Clean Power Plan.
  • Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor: Railed against the idea that climate change should be a national security priority.
  • T. McFarland, Deputy National Security Advisor: Ridiculed U.S. military efforts to address the climate change security threat as a Fox News commentator.
  • Tom Price, Health and Human Services Secretary: Signed a pledge to oppose climate legislation; congressional champion of oil & gas subsidies.
  • Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary: Resigned from the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies when it launched its “Beyond Coal” campaign, in step with her climate-denying husband, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • Ben Carson, Housing Secretary: When asked about climate change he said, “When things stop changing, then we’re dead.”
  • Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator: Close ally of the fossil fuel industry, a vocal critic of the EPA, questions the validity of climate science, and has led lawsuits against the EPA Clean Power Plan.
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Secretary of the Interior: Congressional lifetime score of 4% from the League of Conservation Voters.

Is this what you thought you were voting for? If not, why not tell the President-elect not to put an enemy of climate action in charge of the EPA? You can do it by clicking here.

For more detail on Trump’s cabinet picks, see Climate Central’s full report

Why I Am Devastated by the Election

Reverend Ed Brown is a preacher. And a good preacher knows how to tell a story.

The former missionary to Pakistan is now in the business of caring for God’s creation, and mobilizing the Christian church to join him. And to help us understand the world we now live in, he asks us to imagine ourselves as the crew of a passenger liner at sea, many days from the nearest shore. We all have important jobs to do. Some of us prepare delicious food for the restaurants on board. Some of us manage entertainment for our passengers. Some run children’s programs for families on the trip. Some keep the toilets working. Still others provide medical care to the sick on board.

reflection-hero-1600x900_tcm27-78547

“I have some sobering news…”

We are all busy with our callings, and each of them is vital to the success of our voyage, and even the safety of the thousands of passengers under our care.

But on this particular morning, the captain calls us all into a meeting on the ship’s bridge. His expression today is grave.

“I have received some sobering news from the chief engineer today,” he begins. “None of us should panic, but I need you to listen carefully to every word he tells us.”

The engineer steps forward, and lays out the story: During the night, there was an accident in the engine room, and the ship is taking on water. The pumps are running at capacity, but we are not keeping up. The ship is already riding lower in the water. More can be done, but we need everyone’s help for the survival of the ship. He lays out the plan in detail. It calls for our best efforts. If we all play a role, we can make it safely back to port.

“You still have your own jobs to do,” concludes the captain. “Children still need to be cared for. Meals still need to be prepared. Sick passengers still need medical care. But now, you must do your work with this in mind: It will all be for nothing unless we pull together on the engineer’s plan. The voyage, our passengers, and even our own lives hang in the balance. We can spare no effort.”

Rev. Brown’s story is, of course, the story of manmade climate change and Christian mission. Some of us are called to care for the aged. Some are called to relieve hunger. Others provide clean water; or teach children; or reconcile those in conflict. Others, perhaps, are more like the passengers – until now, mainly focused on our own vacation, leisure and appetites.

But whatever we’re doing now, runaway climate change threatens to sink all of our efforts. The hungry, the thirsty, the children, those fleeing conflicts – none will be spared if we don’t rise to the challenge.

But like the ship’s crew, we have a plan. In fact, the whole world has come together and agreed on a response to climate pollution. It’s called the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the 195 nations of the world have all agreed to it. It’s designed to assure that global temperatures don’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius from those that sustained our parent’s world. Despite an ambitious start, we’re told that it’s not quite good enough to get us there. We’ll have to come back with even more creativity and resolve if we want to keep our planet below that perilous heat threshold.

But let’s go back to the ocean liner. Let’s imagine that the crew had some doubts about the captain’s plan. The entertainment director never had much trust in captains anyway. And he certainly had no time for boring engineers with their oily coveralls and dire warnings.

“The leak is a hoax,” he begins whispering to his shipmates. “We’re being led by stupid, stupid people. I could make this voyage really great, but we need to make some changes at the top.”

And next morning, we wake up to find the entertainer in command on the bridge, and the captain confined to his quarters below deck. The ship is just beginning to list slightly to starboard, but the casino and nightclub are packed. Everyone’s having fun. We’re no longer headed back to port. The children under our care run and play, unaware that the engine room is now almost flooded out.

And that’s the story that began to unfold last week, when voters in the world’s richest and largest economy chose a climate change denier as captain of their ship for the next four years. He has promised to withdraw from the Paris Agreement; to forbid the EPA from regulating CO2 as a pollutant; to abandon the Clean Power Plan; to construct new pipelines to increase the flood of Canadian tar sands crude – the world’s dirtiest oil – through the American heartland to export terminals on the Gulf; to increase fracking for natural gas; to reverse the long-term decline of coal extraction and burning.

ship-21And in case there’s any doubt about how serious he is, he’s appointed one of the most notorious climate change “hoaxers” to lead his transition team at the EPA. The rest of the world has begun to ask if it’s possible for worldwide climate action plans to survive under such an assault. Some are talking about slapping carbon tariffs on anything imported from the US. Others are calling us a “rogue nation,” like North Korea.

Me, I’m watching the children play on the ship’s pool deck. Look! There are my little granddaughters! And my daughter-in-law rocking her new baby! They’re so beautiful. They’re so beautiful. My eyes moisten.

Suddenly, I grab for a rail to catch my balance. The ship is now listing harder to starboard. The little ones don’t notice yet. Ice cream is being served. With sprinkles.

Day One: What Happens to White Evangelicals and the Gospel Now?

I wake at three. After several hours of darkness, the dawn ushers in a gray drizzle. I struggle to breathe.

The pale blue light in my palm chimes and vibrates, bringing me the laments of many friends in short bursts of text. The morning after the polls closed, how could we have done this? Is this who we really are?

Who are we now? Who are we now?                  Source: Business Insider

Who are we now? Who am I now? Do I even belong here? Belong in this national story? In this political affiliation? In this religious tribe?

Friends and children all ask me the same questions: What does this mean for Muslims? For immigrants? For refugees? For the poor? For the disabled? For the uninsured? For political opponents?

But some ask more ominous questions: What does this mean for the survival of our species, for billions of our fellow humans? And what does it mean for countless other species and ecosystems? Could America have just voted humankind onto an irreversible course of decline, dragging an ark-full of other creatures down with us?

And could its white evangelicals have simultaneously sealed the fate of their religious movement?

Surely, no one has ever reacted to an election with such dire warnings. Perhaps I have gone totally overboard? I don’t think so. But you decide.

There is one planetary peril so dire that all 195 nations of the world have decided they must act now. In Paris last year, they came together to finalize an agreement by which we would all take specific steps to prevent the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Every nation signed, and enough have now ratified it to become binding. The measures included so far aren’t nearly enough to keep warming at 2 degrees. But everyone is expecting future sessions to increase world-wide ambition in reaching this goal.

And why is it so important to avoid 3-4 degrees of warming? For starters, heat waves would be simply unbearable for much of humanity – 100-year heat waves would occur during almost all summer months every year in many regions. Sea levels would rise more than 1 meter by the end of the century, and would accelerate further after that. Food production would decline as hot regions become dryer, and as intense storms destroy farmlands. The collapse of the marine food chain is also likely, as reefs die in warmer, more acidic oceans. And humanity – armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction – would have to decide who starves, and who lives.

The story is no fantasy. But it is a nightmare. 3-4 degrees of warming must be avoided at all costs. And the world agreed in Paris to do so.

But now, we have now elected Donald Trump, who has specifically promised to kill the Paris Agreement and the US initiatives that constitute our share of the climate-saving work. Here are a few of the steps he has promised to take:

  • Abolish the EPA as we know it.
  • Forbid any surviving portion of the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide.
  • Halt funding for the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • Cancel the Clean Power Plan.
  • Build the Keystone XL pipeline and more like it.
  • Stop any carbon tax or pricing mechanism.

So rather than strengthening the Paris Agreement as will be needed, our country has chosen a leader who has sworn to kill the global effort entirely. With the world’s greatest superpower thumbing its nose at its poorer neighbors, coal and oil pollution will continue to rise, as will heat, hunger and sea levels.

Humanity can adapt to changes, you are thinking? Well, for a while, especially the rich and mobile. And the world has seen a temperature change of 4 degrees before, about 100,000 years ago during the last ice age. But back then, the change occurred over thousands of years –not one single century. And time is everything when it comes to climate adaptation. Most species and people cannot adapt, much less evolve to thrive in the breakneck pace of change we’re causing.

Perhaps you aren’t concerned by this last item, but if you’re a Christian and think you have good news to offer the world, maybe you should be. Because white evangelicals were by far the strongest backers of Trump. They backed him by a higher margin than any other candidate in a generation – more than 80 percent.

So as the impacts of runaway climate change wreak havoc on the people of the world, let’s not even dream of the world’s people darkening the doors of our churches. Good news? Really? First you kill my source of survival, and then you offer me good news? If you’ve got a god, he’s the last thing I want to hear about.

For American White Evangelicalism, this looks like it could be the beginning of a very sorry end.

Never-Trump Evangelicals on an Endangered Planet

For many American Evangelicals, this election season is different. Whatever we think about guns, or emails, or Roe v. Wade, or billionaires paying no taxes, or health care – we’ve never seen anything like this before.

Since Reagan in the 1980’s, we’ve been a reliable base for the Republican Party. But not this year. This year, we Evangelicals have been split wide open by the looming shadow of a Trump presidency. With nearly daily pronouncements that would normally send Christians packing, Trump has attracted intense criticism from many religious leaders, and awkward theological contortions from many of the Old Guard. James Dobson and Jerry Falwell Jr. still stand by their man. But many church leaders – from Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, to pastor Max Lucado, to evangelist Beth Moore, to author Phillip Yancey, and even to Pope Francis himself – have criticized the GOP standard-bearer as antithetical to Christian teaching.

Russell Moore: "The damage done to gospel witness this year will take longer to recover from than those 1980's televangelist scandals."

Baptist Russell Moore: “The damage done to gospel witness this year will take longer to recover from than those 1980’s televangelist scandals.”

The Never-Trump Evangelicals are a diverse bunch. But we share with each other allegiance to the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe that he is Lord of all things: All things were created by and for him; he holds all things together; he is reconciling all things to himself; and he has made us agents of his reconciliation toward all things. There simply is nothing beyond the scope of our Lord’s care – and ours.

Of course, this means that we are not misogynists. We struggle against racism and xenophobia. We recoil at threats of torture, and killing the families of our enemies. We are dismayed at the prospect of a president whose entire campaign has earned him the notorious “Lie of the Year” award. We can hardly imagine handing the world’s strongest military into the hands of one who indulges in noxious conspiracy theories, who flirts with inciting political violence, who admires authoritarian rulers, and who threatens to jail his political enemies. And we feel the threat to what remains of our cultural decency from a thrice-married presidential aspirant whose casinos feature strip clubs, and who boasts of grabbing women by the genitals while his third wife is pregnant with his fifth child.

Trump’s “antics,” insisting that, “such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election.”

Max Lucado: Trump’s antics “wouldn’t even be acceptable for a middle school student body election.”

But for some of us Never-Trump Evangelicals, these are trifles, when compared to the most ominous consequences ahead.

Trifles? How can anyone pass off such patent disregard for the foundations of Christian decency as mere trifles?

Here’s how.

While it’s attracted curiously little public debate, Candidate Trump has promised to singlehandedly undo the entire world’s last, best effort to save our common home from runaway ecosystem destruction. For people who take geo-science seriously, Trump’s promises amount to destruction of the creation that sustains our civilization.

Really. We’re not reading between the lines. This is not something he might do. This is what he has expressly promised to do. Considering the stakes, we’d be fools not to take “straight-talking” Trump at face value: He has promised to spare no effort to destroy every national and global effort to salvage a livable climate for us and our children.

Here are just a few targets on Trump’s planetary hit-list:

  • Abolish the EPA as we know it. (Anyone remember Pittsburgh or Cleveland in the 1970’s? Or Beijing today?)
  • Forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide. (Of course, this won’t be necessary once it’s been abolished.)
  • Halt funding for the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. (As the second-largest polluter in the world, the defection of Trump’s America would bring down the entire 190-nation effort to stop runaway climate change.)
  • Cancel the Clean Power Plan. (The fossil-fuel industry would be free to emit as many greenhouse gases into our common atmosphere as they want – for free.)
  • Build the Keystone XL pipeline and more like it. (Despite historically low fuel prices, the world’s dirtiest oil would be piped through America’s largest aquifers, for refining and export.)
  • Kill federal fracking regulations. (Even if toxic fracking chemicals can destroy community drinking water, that’s not government’s business if oil companies are against it.)
  • Oppose any carbon tax. (The cost of climate disruption should be borne by you and me, not by fossil fuel polluters.)

So what would it mean to us if Trump kept even a few of these promises?

Well, his scheme will trigger the collapse of the global climate initiative aimed at keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. (In case you are skeptical, mega-polluter China has just warned of the danger of Trump’s plans.) Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will continue to grow unabated. And while the consequences may sound apocalyptic, they are well understood by experts around the world: polar ice sheets will melt faster in the runaway heat; rising sea levels will inundate coastal cities and nations; the oceans will become too acidic to support marine ecosystems; and extreme weather – droughts, floods, wildfires and tropical storms – will drive mass migration and desperate resource conflicts in a world armed to the teeth.

Pope Francis: "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian."

Pope Francis: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

And if that is not enough, the survivors of our recklessness will bear the knowledge that of all the nations on earth, ours will bear unique responsibility for the world’s suffering. At the very moment that the entire planet came together under the Paris Agreement to save our children from runaway climate change, America will have handed the reins of a superpower to the only leader in the world to scoff at the threat of climate change — the one leader whose plans amount to a manifesto for planetary destruction.

Worse yet, our country will have done so with the key backing of leaders of the Religious Right or conservative Evangelicals. Now that’s something to think about.

Because the very name “Evangelical” comes from the Greek word for “good news.” We bear the good news of the gospel – God’s love offered freely in Jesus Christ to an injured world in need of restoration and healing. And yet, perhaps we will have a key hand in destroying the most basic systems that humanity needs for its survival? Really? That’s good news?

No, it’s not. But we Never-Trump Evangelicals know that. Our Lord is not in the business of destroying his creation and his people. In fact, he loved his world so much that he laid down his life to reconcile all of it to himself. And we will do all we can to offer this good news to an injured world.

This is who I am.  This is what I care about.  Other Never-Trump Evangelicals like me agree with this. Maybe you agree too?

My Congressman’s Belated Conversion on Trump

Note: This article contains uncensored quotes of American politicians, and may be unsuitable for polite company or children.

Dear Congressman Garrett (R-NJ-5th):

I was curious to find your name on the growing list of Republicans who have jumped ship on Donald Trump. Finally, after The Washington Post released video recordings of him boasting about sexually assaulting women. Digging a little deeper, I found only a vague statement from you calling his conduct “inexcusable.” Specifically, it appears you said:

“I am appalled that he would brag about violating a woman’s physical boundaries. As a husband and father of two daughters, I denounce his comments and the behavior that it incites.”

On October 7, the Washingotn Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

On October 7, The Washington Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

Well, that’s good. Here in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, I suspect that just about everyone with daughters or granddaughters (like me) would say no less. And most people who care for any woman or girl would surely agree.

So, bravo, congressman! I guess.

I’m assuming this means you’re no longer really supporting Trump. Am I right? To be sure, you’ve been willing to stand with him through a lot. Until now, nothing he’s done has cost him your support. But then, why now? Please, sir: How is this so different from the litany of outrages that you’ve tolerated to this point?

  • Mexicans are criminals and rapists (June 16, 2015). Trump kicked off his campaign with this shocker. Not a problem for you, Mr. Garrett. Right?
  • POWs, like John McCain, are not war heroes (July 18, 2015). A little awkward? But you went along.
  • “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” (November 12, 2015). I guess we’ll just call that political hyperbole, right? All good.
  • “Now this poor guy, you ought to see this guy” (November 24, 2015). Trump flailed his arms to mock the disability of a reporter who had debunked his scandalous claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. But this somehow didn’t bother you?
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (December 7, 2015). You remember? Trump’s absolutely shocking call to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Sure, it wasn’t your religion he was talking about. But it was too much for your fellow NJ Republican, Christie Whitman.
  • Cozying up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (December 18, 2015). That cost Trump a few GOP endorsements, but you were still good.
  • PolitiFact gave Trump the 2015 Lie of the Year Award (January 1, 2016). 70 percent of Trump’s public statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants-on-Fire False. Only 16 percent were either True or Mostly True. You, a religious man, were unmoved. At least he isn’t Hillary (whose PolitiFact ratings bear absolutely no resemblance to Trump’s).
  • “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump’s many instances of incitement to violence against opponents (this example, February 1, 2016) were a bit awkward for people who favor peaceable discourse. For you, not so much.
  • Torture as American policy is a good thing: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” (February 6, 2016). It was way too much for many of your GOP colleagues. But despite all that stuff in the Bible, the Constitution and the Geneva Convention about the dignity of human life, not you.

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump's statements in 2015 to be false

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump’s statements in 2015 to be false

  • KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, and the candidate refused to disavow the endorsement (February 28, 2016).  Practically every Republican with the word “Former” in his title condemns Trump at this point. Any reaction from you, Mr. Garrett? Hmm.
  • A candidate who boasts to the country about the size of his penis (March 3, 2016) is probably something our nation’s founders probably never really thought much about. Mitt Romney flipped out. Still no word from you.
  • My wife is prettier than your (ugly) wife (March 23, 2016). Trump’s Twitter post to debase Ted Cruz’s wife based on her appearance shocked women everywhere. Despite your love for wife and daughters, no comment from you.
  • A judge can’t rule on my Trump University fraud case because his parents were Mexican (June 5, 2016). Mr. Garrett, this didn’t bother you? You still didn’t speak up?
  • We just might renege on our treaty obligations and abandon our NATO allies: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself” (July 20, 2016). Even the prospect of a Free World without solid alliances didn’t bother you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Let’s ask Russia to hack into the Democratic Party’s computer records (July 27, 2016). Cyber warfare may be a serious threat, but let’s keep our priorities straight: Beat Hillary at any cost, right?
  • Bereaved Muslim Gold Star parents have nothing to say, and it’s because of their barbaric religion (July 30, 2016). The trickle of GOP defections from Trump swells to a torrent, but still no word from you, Mr. Garrett?
  • After the election, NRA allies can still stop a future President Hillary Clinton, implicitly by assassinating her (August 9, 2016). Well that was awkward. Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan – all great leaders tragically shot. But I guess we’ve got to find some way to stop our political opponents in this country of ours. Still no word from you?
  • “He’s the founder of ISIS” (August 10, 2016). Interviewers virtually begged Trump to say he was joking about President Obama, but he held the line. And you went right along. A torrent of GOP defections ensued. No problem yet for you, Mr. Garrett?z1aj7ceqopjtftpbiflgptm_cmiobey5ovqq4xbavwfn-wiqdt8uxf4xw_l9lxoj3lrw5swoojhfyvaexdttr8xkqcf58toz5batt_ph-zxreoflclsqeoxmgzbzmqe6gs2yoacg
  • “I’m not a big believer in manmade climate change” (August 11, 2016). Eleven times, Trump called climate change “a hoax” or “bulls**t.” He even promised to kill all American and global efforts to save our children from a chaotic climate future. Still no problem for you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Trump asserts that five black men who languished in jail for 13 years for a crime they did not commit were guilty anyway, even though their innocence had been conclusively proven (October 6, 2016). Still nothing there to lose sleep over?

So far, no problems. Trump is still your man, Congressman Garrett. But there’s big trouble just around the corner. We’re about to learn – finally – something about this otherwise good man that you simply cannot abide:

“Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.” On October 7, 2016, headlines all over the world scream out Trump’s obscene boast. If you’re a rich and famous star like Trump, “you can do anything” you want to a woman.

Now that’s different. You are shocked. Shocked! Talking disrespectfully about women. Bragging about committing a vile crime. Boasting about being so powerful that you can force American women to have sex with you. Beautiful women. Women whom you can picture looking like your own daughters, perhaps?

Well, golly. Now that’s inexcusable. Do we have this right Mr. Garrett?

Just to be clear, then, it was okay that Trump vowed to kill the world’s last and best hope for saving our children from catastrophic climate change, right? It was okay when he trashed Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, war heroes, disabled people, and grieving Gold Star parents? It was okay when he admired dictators, advocated torture, incited violence among supporters, and hinted at assassination of an American president? And you didn’t mind when he threatened to break faith with our closest allies, and suggested they get their own nuclear weapons?

But now, he’s finally done something that bothers you. Well, sir, we welcome you. We, too, were horrified with what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk.”

But I just can’t contain my curiosity: You had no problem with all this other stuff? Really?

Digging deeper:

  • Trump’s PolitiFact dishonesty record: Here
  • Scott Garrett finally speaking up on Trump: Here
  • Trump’s statements about the “climate change hoax”: Here

Editor’s note: Beloved Planet comments exclusively on matters related to caring for God’s injured world, and especially matters related to climate change. We do not endorse candidates for public office. But this election cycle has featured very little meaningful debate on the threat of manmade climate change, one of the greatest threats faced by our world and the global Christian church today. Republican Donald Trump has vowed to kill the Clean Power Plan (as has Libertarian Gary Johnson), the centerpiece of America’s crucial contribution to the global Paris Climate Accord, signed by more than 170 countries. Such a move would almost certainly spell the Paris Accord’s complete failure.  Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have vowed to implement the Clean Power Plan and comply with the Paris pact.