I have observed that some Latter-Day Saints are antagonistic toward environmental sensibility. I say “environmental sensibility” rather than “environmentalism” because the latter only encompasses a portion of the antagonism that I’ve observed. I can’t call this antagonism a trend because I don’t have any data other than what I have observed in my little corner of the Mormon world. Trend or not, I am troubled and intrigued by what I’ve observed. Hence, I created this blog to explore what the Gospel says about the environment, as well as the related topics of sustainability and consumption.
Why are some Mormons (and others too, I suppose) down on environmental sensibility? I’m sure there are more reasons, but I propose this antagonism comes from any or all of the following:
Economic Position. Some find environmental protection and policy to be at odds with their economic interests. Here in Idaho, water policy has many interested parties including agribusiness, hydroelectric, and wildlife. I can imagine that it is hard for farmers to be concerned with salmon when their field of potatoes is in need of water.
Political Persuasion. Some find environmental protection and policy to be at odds with their political beliefs. For example, regulating auto fuel-economy may go against one’s belief in a hands-off government.
Radical Kickback. Almost every cause has over-zealous supporters. Environmental protection is no different. Perhaps some of the antagonism is a reaction to radical behavior.
Doctrinal Position. Parts of the agenda pushed by some environmentalists are clearly at odds with the Gospel. For example, “multiply and replenish” is in opposition with population control.
Doctrinal Side Effect. Some doctrines are interpreted to be in opposition with environmental sensibility. I have heard some Mormons (and some Evangelicals) who apply the doctrine of Christ’s second coming in such a way that environmental sustainability is not needed…“We don’t need to worry about the environment because Jesus will return to save us before the resources run out.”
Oblivion. Amidst their families, callings, and work, many Saints are oblivious to the environment. In their oblivion these Saints aren’t antagonistic, but I list this condition because it seems to be the most common attitude that I encounter.
I find myself in the unique (or is it?) position of being both a Latter-day Saint and a budding environmentalist. In full discloser, I’m not particularly upstanding in either role. That said, I am trying, and I believe that these roles are not exclusive of each other. Quite the opposite, I find that my faith and my growing environmental/sustainability ethic are in harmony. So much so, that I have chosen “Latter-Day Sustainablist” as my on-line moniker.
What about the antagonism displayed by some Saints towards environmental sensibility? I chalk most of it up to “throwing-out the baby with the bathwater.” However, disagreement with some environmental policy -or with some environmentalists- does not mean one should reject all environmental sensibility. The resources referenced by my other posts are full of reasons why Latter-Day Saints should be good environmental stewards. And although I haven’t found many specifics in the Gospel about this stewardship (nothing specific about recycling in the Book of Mormon, for example), I hope to explore this topic in future posts.
I can’t end this post without saying that I find it extremely myopic to hold the position that environmental sustainability is useless because Christ will return before the resources run out. But I’ll save that soliloquy for another post.
What attitudes (be nice) do the Saints in your part of the world have towards the environment?
What are other reasons why some Saints have antagonistic attitudes?
Where am I right? Where am I wrong? Lay it on me.