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Sunday drivers

Environment | Evangelical theology placed in the service of the liberal agenda earns ink and airtime for anti-SUV campaign

Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2002," Dec. 7, 2002

When The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN all show interest in what Jesus would think on an issue, it's likely that the liberal political agenda is involved.

That was the case late last month, when the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign fired on all cylinders. The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) and other religious groups got a lot of mileage out of arguing that it's immoral to drive big, fuel-inefficient vehicles. "We want to start a discussion in the evangelical community on transportation as a moral issue," the EEN's Rev. Jim Ball told ABC.

One problem is that the WWJDrivers simply take radical environmentalist claims at face value--then stomp on the gas. Their argument goes like this: Global warming is a worldwide threat, big vehicles help fuel global warming, so if we love our neighbors, we'll drive something similar to a Toyota Prius--the car Rev. Ball drives.

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But the logic of the WWJDrivers has holes you could drive an SUV through. They ignore the many climate scientists who have demolished global-warming hysteria. The WWJDrivers also pay little heed to a demonstrated threat: the safety risks of the small, fuel-efficient cars that they recommend. Studies have shown that the government's fuel economy program, CAFE, has killed thousands by forcing dangerous cars onto the market. The WWJDrive campaign calls for even more stringent CAFE standards.

Even more alarming is the theological exhaust typical of much of the environmentalist movement. Look at Toyota's Prius brochure, which boasts: "Some cars claim to stir your soul, but can one actually redeem it? The 2003 Toyota Prius can.... Move forward with one of the most socially conscious vehicles on the planet. The environment will thank you. And so will your soul." What would Jesus drive? That's debatable. What did Jesus say? There's no debate: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Being a good steward of God's creation is a worthy goal, so the WWJDrive campaign isn't a total lemon, but it does need an overhaul.

Timothy Lamer
Timothy Lamer

Tim is managing editor of WORLD magazine.

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