Columns General story Government & Politics Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

Bible face off: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez v. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The University of Florida’s two-volume Hebrew Bible was printed in 1814 in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of Price Library of Judaica 

This week the Notorious AOC cited Scripture for her purpose. Which was to slap down Sarah Huckabee Sanders for criticizing her views on climate change. OMG.

In case you missed the story, it goes like this.

On Monday, Martin Luther King day, AOC was being interviewed by Ta-Nehisi Coates and, alluding to the recent U.N. report’s claim that we have 12 years to prevent climate change disaster, inquired rhetorically, “Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’ ”

Tuesday evening, after the remark was reported by The Hill, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked for a response by Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Ever alert to claims about the end of the world, the daughter of the sometime head of the Arkansas Baptist Convention flung down the spiritual gauntlet.

I don’t think that we are going to listen to her on much of anything, particularly anything that we will leave into the hands of a much, much higher authority. And certainly not listen to the freshman congresswoman on when the world may end.

After Raw Story reported that, AOC took up the challenge. “You shouldn’t need a Bible to tell you to protect our planet, but it does anyway” she tweeted, tipping her hat to Relevant Magazine for “Stopping Climate Change is a Part of Following Jesus,” an article by Evangelicals for Climate Action spokesman Kyle Meyaard-Schaap.

The next AOC tweet paraphrased Scripture as follows: “Genesis 1: God looked on the world & called it good not once, not twice, but seven times. Genesis 2: God commands all people to “serve and protect” creation. Leviticus: God mandates that not only the people, but the land that sustains them, shall be respected.”

Now, for the record, the Bible has come in for some criticism for seeming to give humankind free reign to exploit the rest of nature. And it was a bit of an exaggeration for AOC to suggest that the world would end in a dozen years. After all, the U.N. report only indicates that if major steps aren’t taken, an End Times scenario would begin then.

But as any red-blooded American pre-millennialist knows, you’ve got to be alert to the signs of the times.

Among the recent ones are the burning forests that are afflicting the American West with increasing intensity. As the old gospel song puts it, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign / No more water, the fire next time.”

When facing the imminence of the Apocalypse, fundamentalist Christians are adjured to amend their ways and bring as many people as possible into the fold. We believers in apocalyptic climate change should do no less.

Preach it, AOC!

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

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