Religious groups are taking more interest in environmental issues. For many, it follows the line of taking care of God's creation.
One of the issues that groups seem to be particularly vocal about is mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. Mercury is a neurotoxin that hampers development in fetuses and young children.
Now, according to an article in the Grand Rapids News, the Evangelical Environmental Network is airing a 60-second radio commercial urging legislators to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to drastically limit mercury pollution.
In the ads, the article says, an evangelical pastor and mother from suburban Chicago argues that mercury poisoning is a pro-life issue because it can cause permanent brain damage and developmental disabilities in the unborn.
The campaign also is buying space on billboards in Pennsylvania and several other states.
It reminds me of an EPA hearing on the rules in Philadelphia last May. Here's a portion of the news story I wrote about it:
First, Rabbi Daniel Swartz leaned toward the microphone at Tuesday's hearing on proposed federal rules to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.
By allowing emissions to continue, "we have, in effect, subsidized the poisoning of fetuses and children," the Scranton rabbi said.
Later came the Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a national ministry. "We are hindering children from an abundant life . . . because we failed to clean up this terrible poison," he said.
By the time Joy Bergey of Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church spoke, the EPA's hearing officer, Rob Brenner, was curious.
Of all the rules he has worked on, he said, the religious and social-justice communities have shown the most interest in the mercury rule. Why?
"Because of the fact that it's such clear science," Bergey said. "This hurts babies. This hurts children. It is so clearly a question of moral responsibility."
At least eight speakers represented religious groups.