The friendly religious face of antienvironmentalism is the Washington, DC-based Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship (ICES). The Council was founded in 1999 at the initiative of Fr. Robert Sirico, CSP, a Catholic priest, former gay activist, and head of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.45 Fr. Sirico was instrumental in forging the 1999 antienvironmentalist Cornwall Declaration that sought to counter established faith-based environmental initiatives by Catholic, Jewish, evangelical, and especially mainline Protestant bodies. This manifesto essentially repackages conservative ideology under the rubric of environmental stewardship in the style of Marvin Olasky's "compassionate conservatism" approach to poverty and social welfare. Olasky is a member of the ICES advisory board.
According to journalist Bill Berkowitz, the Christian Right hopes to do for environmental issues what "free-market think tanks have done for the debate on social and political issues." To do this they seek to "harness scripture in the service of free-market environmentalism."46 ICES describes itself as "building a network of religious, academic and community leaders who can offer sound theological, scientific and economic perspectives on these issues. Soon they will provide a credible alternative to liberal environmental advocacy for people in congregations, schools, government, and the religious and secular media."47
The Cornwall signatories epitomize the current trend in political coalition building on the Christian Right, as conservative evangelicals join rightist Catholics like Fr. Frank Pavone, and John Neuhaus, and a few conservative Jews such as Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Notable signatories include James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Christian Reconstructionist author George Grant, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, David Noebel of Summit Ministries, Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, and Diane Knippers of the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD). Knippers' organization was established in the early 1980s to counter the social justice orientation of mainline Protestantism.48 IRD has projects aimed at undermining the historic social justice traditions of the mainline Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal churches.
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