Many of you are familiar with the name John MacArthur because he’s the pastor of California’s Grace Community Church who’s been telling his congregation not to take the virus seriously. He’s openly celebrated the lack of social distancing and face masks in his congregation, once telling a packed house, “the good news is you’re here, you’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks.” In August, he falsely claimed, “There is no pandemic.” And he’s currently involved in an embittered, ongoing legal battle with state authorities for continuing to hold large church services without restrictions.
But there’s another way he’s threatening the well-being of his congregants.
Writing for The Conversation, scientist Paul Braterman draws attention to how MacArthur denies climate change.
He points to a video from 2014, using it to show how MacArthur has always tried to hurt the very people he’s ministering to.
… Full of beautifully constructed rhetorical flourishes, it is forcefully delivered by an experienced and impassioned preacher to a large and appreciative audience.
For me, as a man of science, it is the most complete compilation of unsound arguments, factual errors and misleading analogies as I have seen in discussions of this subject. But it’s important because climate change is a big election issue this November in the US, where there is a growing movement of evangelical Christians who deny its existence, while Joe Biden promises a “clean air revolution”.
Braterman specifically talks about how MacArthur minimizes the effects of climate change, “incorrectly describes the full record as dating back only 30 years,” and says all the evidence other scientists point to is “natural” rather than the result of anything humans have done.
As if that’s not problematic enough, the most mind-numbing part of MacArthur’s many screeds against climate is this statement from a 2008 lecture:
God intended us to use this planet, to fill this planet for the benefit of man. Never was it intended to be a permanent planet. It is a disposable planet. Christians ought to know that.
Christians could easily make the same argument that they’re required by God to take care of the planet that He gave them. After all, if Jesus doesn’t return for another couple of centuries, then it needs to remain sustainable for future generations of children. (Or, to put that in terms Republicans can understand, we need to save the planet for the future of fetuses everywhere.)
The issue of climate change is no longer up for debate, and it hasn’t been for quite some time; it’s real, it’s happening, and we’re running out of time to take any meaningful action to prevent it from spiraling out of control.
For someone with a platform as large as MacArthur’s, misleading his congregation is an incredible act of irresponsibility. The COVID denial is bad enough, but he’s been denying reality for much longer.