Conservative Christians and the Green Dragon

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 30, 2010 — 45 Comments

Yesterday marked the opening of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. At the opening ceremony Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, called on the Mayan goddess Ixchel to bless and guide the proceedings.

“Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, invoked the ancient jaguar goddess Ixchel in her opening statement to delegates gathered in Cancun, Mexico, noting that Ixchel was not only goddess of the moon, but also “the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you — because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools.” … “Excellencies, the goddess Ixchel would probably tell you that a tapestry is the result of the skilful interlacing of many threads,” said Figueres, who hails from Costa Rica and started her greetings in Spanish before switching to English. “I am convinced that 20 years from now, we will admire the policy tapestry that you have woven together and think back fondly to Cancun and the inspiration of Ixchel.

While such an invocation may warm the hearts of many Pagans and practitioners of indigenous faiths, and was no doubt seen as a poetic metaphor by the more secular-minded politicians, activists, and policy experts in attendance, to conservative Christians it was no doubt further confirmation of their greatest fear. That the environmental movement is a stalking horse for Pagan religion, a “green dragon” that seeks to destroy Christianity.

“At a critical moment in the global environmental debate, many of America’s top Christian leaders have joined with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation to produce an explosive new 12-part DVD series, Resisting the Green Dragon, which has begun shipping both in the United States and abroad. The series sounds the alarm about dangerous environmental extremism and brings a Biblical viewpoint on environmental issues and creation stewardship to evangelical churches, ministries, and schools.”

In the above clip provided by Right Wing Watch, the speakers make it plain that this is a spiritual struggle, a battle between competing religions. Christianity on one side, and the “green dragon” of pagan environmentalism on the other. Participating in the video series is a roll-call of conservative Christian heavy-hitters, including Bryan “feminized medal of honor” Fischer, Tony “gay kids kill themselves because they know they’re abnormal” Perkins, Wendy “contraception education is a plot by Planned Parenthood to make money by providing abortions” Wright, Janet “allowing gay parents to adopt is state-sanctioned child abuse” Parshall, and Glenn Beck favorite David “paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses” Barton. Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect acknowledges that these figures are politically influential, but tries to minimize the potential damage they could do to legislative/political environmental solutions.

“In a sane world, we could just dismiss this as kooky and irrelevant. But given the evangelical right’s strength among the Republican grassroots, it would be irresponsible not to prepare for when these arguments make their way into the chambers of Congress. That said, I would caution liberals against taking these statements as representative of American Christianity, or even evangelical Christianity. Right-wing evangelicals are very loud, but they are a minority within American Christianity and are outweighed by the mass of Catholics and mainline Protestants who have more sensible views on the subject.

What’s more, there’s an ongoing fight within evangelical Christianity itself, between intensely political, Republican-aligned evangelicals like those “resisting the Green dragon,” and evangelicals like Richard Cizik, the former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who now leads an organization that works to bridge the gap between progressives and evangelicals on issues ranging from climate change to prison reform. These people are allies, and we should work with them as we push against the climate denialism of the religious right.”

First off, as much as I admire Richard Cizik’s principled stance on environmentalism, his influence has been greatly diminished within American Evangelical Christianity. It remains to be seen if he’ll become a standard-bearer for a large number of younger evangelicals who have a broader view of issues like climate change. Secondly, while the 2010 elections were supposedly narrow-focused on taxes and fiscal issues, many of the newly elected Republicans are very socially conservative Christians, Chuck Donovan at the Daily Caller says that “the 112th Congress could prove to be the most socially conservative set of newcomers since the one that rode into Washington on Ronald Reagan’s coattails in 1980.” If you think they’ll be happy to stop at tax-related legislation, well, I have some prime swampland in Florida to sell you.

Some scholars claim that “nature religion” is the future of religion on this planet, and they may be right, but these would-be (green) dragon slayers will do everything in their power to derail this shift in environmental attitudes from being represented in our policy decisions for as long as possible. Those of us within our communities who see environmental issues through a lens of sacred interconnectedness, or as a religious calling, should have cause to be concerned about what this latest effort will mean. As for the Climate Change Conference in Cancun, observers are expecting a low-key meeting, without much in way of new treaties or big initiatives; ensuring more years of relative inaction while increasing numbers of people are directly affected by climate change.  For more on Resisting the Green Dragon, a 12-minute preview is available here (password: RESIST).

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • blah

    i wish they didn't involve deities in their deceptions.

    • Tara_Devotee

      To the Catholics, anything is part of a plot to destroy Catholicism. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/OberonWhitethorn James Russell Rusty Broach

    Here here Robin!

  • Tara_Devotee

    They'd probably tell you that a True Christian (TM) cannot be an environmentalist because environmentalists are not really Christians. ;)

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      But there are Christian environmentalists who disagree.

    • orderofmyrddin

      Yeah…gotta love that circular reasoning. :)

  • http://www.bryonmorrigan.blogspot.com BryonMorrigan

    "Left-Wing Christian Conservatives?" I hope that was an error.

    • http://dandalionsworld.blogspot.com/ dandalion

      yes… it sucks to not know your left from your right… I will edittthis when I get home from work

  • Seven

    Green Dragon? I like. I think I shall scamper off to make a nice bumpersticker to display my new fearsome moniker. Thank you crazy rightwing nutbags. Anyone want one?

    • Riverbend

      ::waves:: over here please! Nice big pretty one! :)

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

      Sounds good to me!

    • Crystal7431

      Yes, I'd like one. Riding the green dragon, perhaps?

      • Seven

        You know I had a drawing started that I have to scrap because "Ride the Green Dragon" is too much fun. Damn you. :)

    • Peter Dybing

      I want one

  • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

    I think that's why it's referred to as projection.

  • http://trickstersdaughter.etsy.com Ava

    It could also be a Tolkien reference, like the gaming/comic/pagan-stuff store near my old hometown…

    • Rombald

      No, the one at Hardraw Foss at least is an old name. Many pub names go back centuries.

    • Tomb

      Nope, Smaug was Gold.

      • Thriceraven

        But the pub in the Shire in an early scene is called the Green Dragon.

  • IMBACK1966

    Hope those interesting times are not in the Chinese sense. ;-)

    • harmonyfb

      From your mouth to the Gods' ears, as my Granny used to say. I've had my fill of that kind of 'interesting'.

  • Tomb

    You…have never been to India or China have you?

  • Tomb

    How so and Why?

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    Oh, wait. That's Saint George.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Yes, and it's nothing compared to Nuclear Slagging the earth.

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    I really don't see how that's much different from indulging in depraved excess because we're all going to die anyway.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Superb, Apuleius.

  • http://www.lezlie1.word.press.com Lezlie

    Green Dragon: The “churchians” who think they are out to “be destroyed” are generally not very interesting. They are just loud. It really doesn’t matter what they think in the end, the Earth is changing and religion – no one’s religion – can stop it. We who are environmentally aware must continue with the work, simply because it’s the right thing to do.
    As Pagans, not describing what we are in terms of other peoples’ beliefs is important to us as a community and to our individual identities as people on a particular spiritual path. We aren’t “like this” or “sort of like that”. We are *this*, and *this* is what we have to give.

  • IMBACK1966

    So you'll send them a case of Pepto-Bismol. So long as the job, the complete erasure of Christianity and Islam, gets done.

    • Tomb

      Genocide has worked well in the past….

      Come on, you don't sound any better then those your persecuting against.

  • IMBACK1966

    By drinking the Kool-Aid? Not good at all. I don't recommend competing with those Jones' at all.

  • Tomb

    I think we can safely put Orthodox Judaism and make that dragon Three Headed.

  • Tomb

    Tell that to the Thralls and Spartacus

  • IMBACK1966

    Yes you can. That's what the riding whip and the spurs are for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1211404661 Ellen MacInnis

    Hmm, walking the Path of the Green Dragon…

  • Carisa

    I also loved the green dragon idea the second I heard it. What a beautiful symbol for environmentalism.

  • ThePaganTemple

    The fact that the proposition that Global Climate Change is caused by man is a load of crap just makes it that much easier to criticize any who bring anything hinting of earth based religion into the mix. It's just too easy. It's easy for me to see the environmentalist crowd as a bunch of wackos who want to rip the beating heart from the chest of liberty and display it beating and bloody to the throngs of rabid environmental worshipers. It's nothing but a scam, and a demonstrable lie that I would just as soon not be identified with, thank you.

  • Stephen A.

    The problem with Ixchel isn't that she was invoked. The problem was that she was seen as a grandmother knitting in a rocking chair, rather than the militaristic, soul-eating, claw-handed bitch that she is (not that there's anything wrong with that!) Two minutes of research could have shown the woman who invoked her that she was invoking a midwife Goddess who enjoyed birthing others' babies because that meant another person would be born who could be killed or sold into slavery. Charming.

    I'll add to other comments here also saying that using religion to stoke fear and panic re: alleged warming is dead wrong. I call foul on Christians who say we are the measure of all things and the planet is 6,000 years old. I also call foul on those who put humans at the center of this huge universe and say our 150 years of recorded weather patterns makes us CERTAIN that we can roll back the next ice age. How pathetic! Let's use reason to save (and adapt to) our environment, not fear and panic.

    • Pagan Puff Pieces

      Now, I disagree with you about global warming, but I do agree that "OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO DROWN" shouldn't be the driving force of environmentalism. Unfortunately… that's where we are.

      What about maintaining the quality of the air and water because, you know, people and animals need to use it, efficient and economical use of resources (very handy in the case of a shortage or embargo), or keeping money out of the hands of tyrants and the twisted economies oil creates?

      But what gets everyone excited? Global warming. Okay, then. Your house will be under water. How's that?

      "Are you SURE it's caused by humans? Because I don't want to do all this environmental stuff for nothing. It'd be a waste."

      It's very infuriating.

      • Stephen A.

        The problem is that now, scientists are saying that SOME seas will rise, and some seas will FALL … due to Man-Made Warming, of course. Ludicrous. That's like a vague fortune telling prediction or a newspaper's horoscope that will be true for almost anyone.

        Your first comment is spot on. "What about maintaining the quality of the air and water because, you know, people and animals need to use it." We should do good because clean water and air is good for us. That's sufficient. Sadly, some people need hype in order to act. However, when the hype is exposed as a fraud, as every major scientitfic "scare" has for the past generation (from alar on apples to the supposed influenza epidemic a while back that wasn't one) people distrust science and the real need to act.

  • Alexandra Ormsby

    And boy, are the Catholics right! Opposition to contraception is the first thing on my list! If we don't bring down the population, there wil be no more green left anywhere, except in greenhouses. Catholics are still living in the dark ages, but climate change will blast us back to the stone age. I found a little green dragon statuette in Chinatown on my lunch hour and put it on my desk, in case anyone has any doubt where I stand. I can't exactly put a statue of an Aztec Goddess, but the Green Dragon says it all!

  • Alexandra Ormsby

    Blessed Be, Robin, and right on! I found a little green dragon statuette in Chinatown, and first, I put it on my desk at work, but now it's going on my altar to Green Tara! Together, the work begins.

  • Alexandra Ormsby

    Thanks for your reply, and especially for saying that no Christian or Muslim is my friend. Didn't anyone watch that video and hear that vitriolic language, how we are trying to poison little kids and scare them by telling them about climate change? Go to their website and see the rest. And I hope we can get a group together to purchase the video so we can see all the things they are saying about our 'cult'.

  • JD Hobbes

    I don't understand how they can accuse "fake" religions in peddling myths and falsehoods, all the while calling this movement a "Green Dragon", which is clearly a mythological creature. Is it only a problem to associate myth with a cause when Christians do it?

    Also, I find it hugely ironic that they have a guy saying that its reprehensible to scare little children to achieve a political end, and in the next clip, you have that woman saying that we MUST obey God's Word or else. So again, it's wrong to threaten children with climate change information, but it's okay to threaten them with religious consequences because we're Christian and we're Always Right(tm).

    *le sigh*

  • stace

    There is an inherent fault in this "wise dominion" idea- dominion over something is tempting. How can we trust ourselves not to exploit something that is supposedly "ours"? Stewardship in itself is a great thing, but what these people are proposing is simply defensive fear-mongering, born out of paranoia rather than any genuine concern for what God gave them.

    I think the best way to remedy the threat of alternative religions that people feel is to assure them that we ARE NOT trying to lead them away from God… we're not evil. Read the Bible, don't let these people scare you. They need to become familiar with who we are and what we do, and then they wil not be afraid.

    Of course, that's not a new idea. It will take a long time to accomplish anything, I fear. At the same time, I will not falter when I must explain to someone that I am not Satanic, I am something else entirely. I will stand strong for as long as it takes.