Calvin B. DeWitt, co-founder of the Evangelical Environmental
Network (EEN), is a professor of environmental studies at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. DeWitt is also the Director of
the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies, a Christian
environmental stewardship institute in Michigan. The Institute's
mission is to "bring healing and wholeness to the biosphere
and the whole of Creation." Rounding out DeWitt's credentials
is his role as president of the Christian Environmental Council.
DeWitt helped found the EEN in 1993. The EEN claims to be a coalition of mainstream evangelical leaders concerned about the environment. Closer examination of the EEN's connections reveal there is nothing mainstream about it: When the EEN launched a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in January 1996 to convince the American people that the Endangered Species Act is the "Noah's Ark of our day," it was the Washington, D.C.- based Fenton Communications that ran the group's media relations. Fenton Communications has long been a favorite of the far left: During the 1980's, for example, Fenton Communications had contracts with the Christic Institute and the communist governments of Angola and Nicaragua. It was Fenton that managed to talk CBS's "60 Minutes" into reporting as fact an unproven claim by the Natural Resources Defense Council that alar, a chemical used to ripen apples, was a serious cancer risk to children. Horrified parents across the nation quit purchasing apples as a result of the report.
But Fenton Communications isn't the EEN's only questionable association. The EEN's cost of ad production in defense of the Endangered Species Act was underwritten by the Environmental Information Center (EIC), which is a virtual "Who's Who" of liberal Democratic Party politics: Philip E. Clapp, the EIC's executive director, served as a member of the national steering committee of Environmentalists for Clinton-Gore; Mike Casey, the group's media relations director, came directly to the EIC from the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee; and staffer Arlie Schardt served as press secretary for Albert Gore's unsuccessful presidential bid. Board Members of the EIC include Francis C. Beineke of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Douglas Foy of the Conservation Law Foundation.
The EEN operates on a $200,000 annual budget out of the Philadelphia offices of Evangelicals for Social Action, another notoriously liberal "evangelical" counter group. One of EEN's key leaders is Ron Sider, who is president and founder of Evangelicals for Social Action. Sider is also one of the leaders of "Call to Renewal," a religious coalition established to counter the Christian Coalition. Sider was also an outspoken critic of the GOP's "Contract with America," telling Christianity Today that the GOP plans to "slash $380 billion from programs for the poor" while giving "$245 billion in tax cuts to the rich and middle class" -- a statement virtually indistinguishable from the White House line.
While Calvin DeWitt is a professor of environmental studies, he has few credentials as a biblical scholar. Yet DeWitt, it seems, has exploited the Scripture for political purposes. He has done so by quoting verses of Scripture out of their full context in order to promote his own political agenda. He has, for example, asserted that the Bible lays out a series of "stewardship principles." These principles, according to DeWitt, are the earthkeeping principle, the fruitfulness principle, and the Sabbath principle. DeWitt suggests that "stewardship of creation is the care and keeping of the life-sustaining integral system of which people are but a part, which, when fully practiced by all, becomes a way of life, and thus no longer has to bear the label 'stewardship.'"
Take Genesis 1:22 for example: "And God blessed them(the fish and birds), saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.'" DeWitt claims this verse means that God gives the first and primary blessing to be fruitful and to multiply to the fish and birds. Building on this, DeWitt posits that since all of the fruitfulness and multiplication blessings are given to all other creatures before humans, then humans are to defer to all creatures. His rationale is that since these are the first blessings given, the creatures come before the humans. But Genesis 2:18-19 contradicts his interpretation of Genesis 1:22: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.' So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever man called every living creature, that was its name." In addition, Genesis 1:28 explains that God created humans in His image, and gave humans the intellectual and physical capability to "subdue the earth and to have dominion over every living creature that moves upon the earth." Clearly, this particular book (Genesis 1) of the Scripture implies that God gave humans power over the earth and all its creatures.
Another example of DeWitt's intellectual dishonesty is his use of Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till and to keep it." DeWitt's interpretation of this verse of Scripture is that God expected Adam to "serve" the garden. However, it seems that DeWitt's interpretation of Genesis 2:15 directly contradicts Matthew 4:10: "Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.'"
In Christian Environmental Stewardship: Preparing a Way for Action, a paper written by Dr. DeWitt, DeWitt states that "biblical teachings reinforce our responsibility for the care and keeping of Creation: they give the grave warning that those who destroy the Earth themselves will be destroyed (Revelation 11:18)." In this case, DeWitt does not even take one whole verse out of context. Rather, he has the audacity to take one phrase out of one verse out of context. Revelation 11:18, in its entirety states: "The nations raged, but thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, for rewarding thy servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear thy name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." The "destroyers" clause is hardly what DeWitt claims: A reinforcement of humans' responsibility to care for and keep God's creation. Rather, it seems as though God is explaining that those who have chosen not to serve the Lord will be punished. For it is those who have chosen to live their life independent of God who are the true "destroyers of the earth."
Selected DeWitt Quotes
"The first blessing of fruitfulness is in Genesis 1:22. It is the blessing and mandate to the fish and birds to be fruitful and multiply and fill the sky and seas. Why is that said first? It is said first so we don't forget them. The blessing comes to all other creatures first."
- Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt in his presentation to the 10th Joint Faith Meeting on the Environment, January 28, 1997
"Deluges -- in Noah's time of water, and in our time of floods of people -- sprawl over the land, displacing God's creatures, limiting their potential to obey God's command, 'be fruitful and increase in number.'"
- Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt, Christian Environmental Stewardship: Preparing the Way for Action
"Without exception, these degradations have one causative agent in common. They are not due to deficiencies in the way the natural world works; neither are they by-products of otherwise beneficial natural processes. The common elements in these degradations is that all derive from the same causative agent. The human species is responsible for them all."
- Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt, Theology, Science, and Creation: Extending the Horizon of Science and the Christian Faith
(Apparently, Dr. DeWitt is not as well versed in the rudimentary aspects of environmental science as he should be. For example, volcanoes do emit sulfur dioxide and particulate matter into the atmosphere, just as trees emit hydrocarbons.)
"Ours is not first of all to worry about those among our very numbers with New Age tendencies but to bring the gospel to those who are seeking, so that what they seek need no longer be invented for how can they hear without someone to preach to them? (Romans 10:14)"
-Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt, Christian Environmental Stewardship: Preparing the Way for Action
(Romans 10:14 implores followers of the Lord to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.)
"But we are finding-- to our embarrassment-- that much of our makings cannot be sustained, that our creations have been bought at the expense of Creation, through degrading, expending, destroying the larger Creation which sustains us."
-Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt, The Importance for Life and Vocation of Being at Au Sable Institute
Version Date: February 1997
|Return to the National Center Home Page||Return to the Dossier Index|
|Go to the Environmental Policy Task Force Home Page||Go to the Earth Day Information Center Home Page|
|Go to the Global Warming Information Center Home Page|