- Founder of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment
- “The relentless magnitude of environmental degradation is clearly the overarching social, political, economic and cultural challenge for our generation, linked with the ongoing struggle for social justice.”
A graduate of Yale and Oxford Universities and a former congressional aide, Paul Gorman was a speechwriter and press secretary for Senator Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 presidential campaign, and spent 28 years as a program host on New York’s WBAI radio. He has taught at several universities, and was once the vice president for programs at New York’s Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Best known for his environmental activism, Gorman
founded the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) in 1991, and has been the group’s executive director since 1993. “The relentless magnitude of environmental degradation,” says Gorman, “is clearly the overarching social, political, economic and cultural challenge for our generation, linked with the ongoing struggle for social justice.”
Gorman’s primary accomplishment as an environmentalist has been to mobilize leftwing church hierarchs (e.g., arch-heretic Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church USA and A. Roy Medley of the American Baptist Church) and well-meaning conservative, religious men (e.g., Bishop Dimitrios of the Greek Orthodox Church) into supporting bad science.
The NRPE’s most recent manifesto, entitled Earth’s Climate Embraces Us All: A Plea From Religion and Science for Action on Global Climate Change,” states the following: “The wealthier nations of the planet have a solemn moral obligation to help developing countries protect the poor in their midst as they seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions.” This “obligation,” in Gorman’s view, stems from what he deems the dire consequences of Global Warming, including “more frequent occurrences of heat waves, drought, torrential rains, and floods; [a] global sea level rise of between one-half and three feet; [an] increase of tropical diseases in now-temperate regions; [and] significant reduction in biodiversity.”
Gorman speaks about the horrors of Global Warming with an air of great certainty, despite the fact that significant scientific evidence casts doubt on its very existence, and that there is no consensus about what the effects of such change might be. Thirty years ago the world’s “leading” environmental scientists were predicting a new Ice Age; now, even the progenitor of the Global Warming theory has his doubts about the efficacy of limiting so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions.
Laying its junk science aside, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment renders two invaluable services to the political left. These partisan clerics intone the proof-texts of the Green movement in the language of brimstone and redemption, conferring an air of sanctity to the left’s agenda. A related group called “Enterprising Environmental Solutions, Inc.” oversees an “Interfaith Power and Light” program, which teaches that opposing the environmentalist political agenda is a sin. Interfaith Power and Light facilitates the environmentalist movement’s goals among leftwing Christians, offering “a curriculum, Exploration/Expression, that explores connections between faith, religious spaces, and our environment.” This is often taught to elementary school children during Vacation Bible School – in place of the Bible. For example, summer campers at one Episcopal Church “discovered that the cost of one pizza from choir practice was enough to purchase renewable energy for their building for a month.”
The Religious Left also gives the Democratic Party a public relations windfall. Numerous polls show that Democrats enjoy little support from those who regularly attend religious services. Joining hands in a press conference with the leading lights of the nation’s “mainstream” denominations – whom the media never identify as leftwing – provides Democrats cover on “the God issue.” When conservatives point out that most religious conservatives oppose a given bill, the left can point to this leftwing coalition with equal fervor, although the size and influence of NCPE is miniscule compared to that of the Christian Right.
Much of this profile is adapted from 57 Varieties of Radical Causes, published by Ben Johnson in September 2004.