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Colleges Going Green for Jesus

The other Chronicle — the Christian Chronicle, the international newspaper of the Churches of Christ—carries an article this week about the ways in which Christian colleges are “going green.” The article features a project to make student housing out of recycled shipping containers at Lubbock Christian University, along with some notes about the university’s geothermal field. The article also mentions Pepperdine University’s “green team,” Faulkner University’s recycling programs, and Lipscomb University’s green buildings.

The projects cited in the article would sound familiar to many colleges with sustainability programs—there’s nothing unusual here, except perhaps that the movement is taking hold among people who are frequently stereotyped as conservatives. The article cites the Creation Care movement, which was started by the Rev. Jim Ball, as highly influential in sustainability circles at Christian colleges. Certainly, a number of Christian colleges have been striving for years for leadership positions in sustainability—Goshen College comes to mind.

What’s compelling about this article is the way it frames the sustainability movement—the most fervent sustainability activists could not ask for more inspired language. “Sustainability is a cry out from society … for true kingdom living,” says one official of Lipscomb University. Quote that to your president next time he says no to your solar-panel project.

“There is a … responsibility that God has given us,” says another official, from Faulkner University. “He wants us to take care of his earth, to take care of his animals, to take care of … his water.”

Contrast those with a verse from the gospel of Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator and professed Christian: “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’” Or with the official position of the National Association of Evangelicals on climate change: “Global warming is not a consensus issue, and our love for the Creator and respect for His creation does not require us to take a position.”

Of course, it seems that some regular readers of the other Chronicle have similar views. “I find it unfortunate that Christian universities are jumping on the liberal bandwagon of ‘green,’” writes one commenter. “I understand being a good steward, but you might want to take a look how environmentalists are worshiping the world instead of its Creator.”

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