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The Lost Environmentalists: The Struggle Between Conservative Protestants and the Environmental Movement, 1970-2010
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“The Lost Environmentalists” offers the first historical account delineating the relationship between the religious right, a major Christian fundamentalist led political movement and the hotly debated issue of environmental protection. Past scholars believe this political/religious group traditionally opposed environmental protection efforts due to their conservative militant culture and long-held theological interpretations that marginalized nature as a simple resource for humanity’s financial benefit. In contrast, I reveal new ways the religious right understood nature while they promoted its protection throughout the 1970s to the early 1990s. During the latter decade, the movement ultimately adopted anti-environmentalist views. The religious right’s relationship with nature and environmental protection is indeed complex and evolved over time. In response to Earth Day 1970, fundamentalists initially wanted to participate in the Earth Day observance. However, the secular environmental movement drove fundamentalists away by blaming Christianity for the ecological crisis. Nevertheless, the religious right continued promoting eco-friendly views as they built a national identity for themselves over the next twenty years. During this process, they portrayed nature sympathetically and in many cases understood it as equally important to economic prosperity. Accordingly, members participated in the twentieth anniversary of Earth Day in 1990. Almost simultaneously, the religious right’s most powerful leaders adopted anti-environmental views from pro-business allies and sought to crush the eco-friendly groundswell. Successfully overturning the community’s nature sympathies took years and a variety of tactics including indirectly bullying congregants. This research reveals an entirely new understanding of the religious right’s environmental views and also contributes a new caveat to the movement’s traditional definition as uncompromising religious militants. Furthermore, beyond filling a major gap in religious and environmental history and being of interest to political science, sociology and theology, “The Lost Environmentalists” will enable the general public to understand why an important political group currently opposes environmental efforts.
Pogue, Neall W. (2016). The Lost Environmentalists: The Struggle Between Conservative Protestants and the Environmental Movement, 1970-2010. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from