Beliefs Politics

So does God need our help or not?

Our quote of the day yesterday was from Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who tried to explain his opposition to the idea of climate change by quoting from Genesis 8:22:

“The Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘As long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

Andrew Sullivan called Inhofe's reasoning Exhibit A in “fundamentalism” run amok in public policy, saying, “If that is what passes for religion, I really can't criticize atheists.”

Over at WaPo's OnFaith, Holy Cross professor Mathew N. Schmalz says Inhofe's “theological conundrum” raises profound questions about human free will and divine intervention:

Climate change is not the only policy matter that the Oklahoma senator views through a biblical lens.

James Inhofe’s support of Israel is as steadfast as his opposition to theories of global climate change. Speaking in 2002, the senator enumerated seven reasons why the United States should support Israel. … There was no explicit need to quote Genesis 13:14-17 to advocate a specific policy position, but Senator Inhofe did so to extend his case: God had promised the land to Abram and thus the West Bank belongs to the Jewish people. Indeed, the senator argued that by restraining Israel’s efforts to defend itself “the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America.” Inaction and wrong action have deadly consequences, whatever God wills in the end.

From Inhofe's floor speech in 2002 on Israel:

I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel; that it has a right to the land. This is the most important reason: Because God said so. … This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.

So, if I'm understanding Inhofe correctly, God needs our help to maintain Israeli security, but doesn't need — much less want — our help to combat climate change.

Let's open this up: Is this politicized theology or theologized politics?

(photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

About the author

Kevin Eckstrom

Kevin Eckstrom joined the Religion News Service staff in 2000 and became editor-in-chief in 2006.

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  • Inhofe’s position shows exactly where his values are. He wants to promote our murderous defense apparatus, including the industrial aspect of it against which Dwight Eisenhower strongly warned us as he was leaving office. He suggests we just pass on to God the blame and responsibility for all the overt damage we do the the climate. If Inhofe had his sense, knowledge, and values in order, he would stop using religion as a cover for his selfish greed and stop playing the game of exploiting God in his efforts to protect and promote the acquisition of wealth for the 1%–both here and in Israel–at the cost of immeasurable health problems and death for the masses. There are not sufficient words to bestow shame on Inhofe!