Earlier in the week, hard-right pastors Rick Joyner and Jim Bakker became the latest to blame a national tragedy on abortion and marriage equality. They suggested that Hurricane Harvey dumped gallons of rain on Houston not because of climate change, but because its gay-friendly reputation left it up to its eyeballs in “sin and wickedness.” To hear them talk, God was using the massive flooding to discipline Houston, and this country, for continuing to allow legalized abortion and becoming more tolerant of the LGBT community.
It should come as no surprise that Joyner and Bakker have been slammed up and down for this ignorant stand. But one critic has hit particularly close to home–Joyner’s daughter, Anna Jane.
In recent years, a growing number of kids raised in fundified environments have had the scales fall off their eyes when they step outside their comfort zones. For Anna Jane, that moment came while she was a student at the University of North Carolina. While spending a semester abroad in New Zealand, she had her mind broadened considerably about environmental issues. She later told Yale Climate Connections that before then, she’d been taught to believe environmentalists were just like hippies and liberals who were on a one-way ticket to hell.
When Anna Jane changed her major to environmental studies, her father initially yanked her tuition. However, she was able to get him to back down by writing a thesis about the intersection between the environmental movement and theology, listing a number of biblical verses that outline reasons why Christians should care for the environment.
Since graduating from Carolina, Anna Jane has worked to convince Christians to open their eyes about climate change. In 2014, as part of the “Years of Living Dangerously” series on Showtime, she debated her father on climate change and global warming. She also took part in a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. Watch a clip here.
While she has yet to convince her father that climate change is real and not just a liberal ploy, she has at least convinced him that Christians have a duty to care for the earth. However, when she saw her father’s appearance on Bakker’s show, she realized she had more work to do, and took to Facebook from her home on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, where she was preparing for Hurricane Irma.
Anna Jane was very chagrined at her father’s “troubling” and “denigrating” comments about Harvey, which she took very personally given that she has made fighting climate change her life’s work. As she sees it, her father’s comments go well beyond a family dispute–they’re actually “quite dangerous.” She noted that a number of scientists have pointed out how Harvey was made more intense due to climate change.
Notably, she said, scientists have found evidence that the staggering rain totals from Harvey came from the water being warmer and the higher levels of humidity. Superstorm Sandy was a similar beast; there is considerable evidence that it was definitely “worsened” by climate change. She also touched on the intense flooding in Bangladesh.
Anna Jane reminded us that the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the air half a century ago is now coming back to haunt us in the form of climate change. Unless we do something about the CO2 we’re putting into the air now, the effects could become “catastrophic, potentially apocalyptic.” For that reason, Anna Jane is appalled that her father is continuing to deny this reality.
Anna Jane hasn’t just broken publicly–and loudly–with her father on just environmental issues. When her father claimed that racism had been more or less licked before Obama took office, Anna Jane let her father have it. Watch here.
Anna Jane does agree with her father on one thing–the devastation from Harvey was brought about in part due to “human wickedness.” However, she believes the wickedness doesn’t come from abortion and marriage equality, but from ignoring the “incredible science that keeps this world going.” She believes the number of people being harmed and dying as a result of climate change is a moral crisis–one that we have “five to ten years” at most to fix before it becomes a “runaway” scenario.
This seems like common sense. After all, if God gave us dominion over the earth, common sense dictates that we’d better do all we can to take care of it. Anna Jane gets it. But will her father get it?
(featured image courtesy Joyner’s Facebook)