Last February, we helped former Interior Secretary James Watt set the record straight when he was libelled by Bill Moyers. Our exposure of Moyers’s falsehoods resulted in a letter of apology from Moyers to Watt (which, however, was insincere), a correction in the Washington Post, and a weird sort-of-correction in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Now, to its credit, the Post has given Mr. Watt equal time to rebut the slander that is being perpetrated against conservative Christians. Watt’s article is “The Religious Left’s Lies.” Here are some excerpts:
The religious left’s political operatives have mounted a shrill attack on a significant portion of the Christian community. Four out of five evangelical Christians supported President Bush in 2004 — a third of all ballots cast for him, according to the Pew Research Center. … The religious left took note. Political opportunists in its ranks sought a wedge issue to weaken the GOP’s coalition of Jews, Catholics and evangelicals and shatter its electoral majority. They passed over obvious headliners and landed on a curious but cunning choice: the environment. Those leading the charge are effective advocates: LBJ alumnus Bill Moyers of PBS fame, members of the National Council of Churches USA and liberal theologians who claim a moral superiority to other people of faith.
Last December Moyers received an environmental award from Harvard University. About three paragraphs into the speech, after attacking the Bush administration, Moyers said: “James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, ‘After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.’ Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn’t know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true — one-third of the American electorate if a recent Gallup poll is accurate.”
I never said it. Never believed it. Never even thought it. I know no Christian who believes or preaches such error. The Bible commands conservation — that we as Christians be careful stewards of the land and resources entrusted to us by the Creator.
Moyers is not without reinforcements. A liberal theologian and active participant in the National Council of Churches, Barbara R. Rossing of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, published a book titled “The Rapture Exposed.” … Rossing contends that Christians who believe in the Rapture presume that there is no need for stewardship of natural resources because of the expected return of the Lord. She writes: “Watt told U.S. senators that we are living at the brink of the end-times and implied that this justifies clear-cutting the nation’s forest and other unsustainable environmental policies. When he was asked about preserving the environment for future generations, Watt told his Senate confirmation hearing, ‘I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.’ Watt’s ‘use it or lose it’ view of the world’s resources is a perspective shared by the Rapture proponents.”
Rossing fictionalizes this whole scenario and neglects to finish the sentence, which was as follows: “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns; whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations.”
On Feb. 14, the National Council of Churches issued a statement “in an effort to refute” what NCC theologians “call a ‘false gospel’ . . . and to reject teachings that suggest humans are ‘called’ to exploit the Earth without care for how our behavior impacts the rest of God’s creation. . . . This false gospel still finds its proud preachers and continues to capture its adherents among emboldened political leaders and policymakers.”
If such a body of belief exists, I would totally reject it, as would all of my friends. When asked who believed such error, where adherents to this “false gospel” might be found, the NCC turned to its theological sources, Moyers and a magazine called Grist, which had also apologized to me. I then contacted the chairman of the NCC task force and asked him about the “some people” who believe this false gospel and the “proud preachers” advancing this false gospel. He could not name such persons.
This would be shocking, if we were not so thoroughly accustomed to the mendacity of the left. A Lutheran theologian offers, as the key support for her attack on a former government official, a single sentence–from which she has removed the second half, thereby reversing its meaning. Is this really what they teach in the seminary? As a Lutheran, I hope not. Then, the National Council of Churches issues a press release attacking a purported body of theological opinion which is said to be associated with “emboldened political leaders and policymakers”–Republicans all, of course. Yet, when challenged to name a single person who holds these supposedly widespread views, the person who headed up the task force for the NCC is stumped. He can’t name a single human being who holds the views he has so vigorously denounced. This is, apparently, the quality of scholarship we should expect from the National Council of Churches. Pathetic.
Thanks to Jim Watt for pointing out today’s article to us. Mr. Watt is a kindly gentleman who was enjoying a well-deserved retirement from public life, when he was dragged back into the political fray, against his will, by virtue of being relentlessly libelled by Bill Moyers and other liberals. It’s good to see that, having been forced to participate once more in public debate, he is defending himself with the skill and determination that, decades ago, he brought to his years of public service.