Irresponsible Activism on the Part of Religious Environmental Activists Threatens Necessary Economic Development


Acton Institute, May 28, 2002: Grand Rapids, MI - The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty stated today that “disastrous effects” would be the result of irresponsible social and environmental activism on the part of the religious environmental movement. A number of religious groups allied with the radical environmental movement plan to participate in Exxon Mobile's annual shareholders meeting, set to take place May 29, 2002, in Dallas, Texas.

A number of these religious groups have put forward shareholder resolutions calling for a range of items tied to dubious social and environmental concerns. Such items include the linking of executive compensation to vaguely defined social and environmental criteria and calling for the increased use of renewable energy sources without reference to sound scientific research.

In a statement, Rev. Robert A. Sirico, the president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, offered:

“It is a fundamental belief of mine that this ongoing alliance between the radical environmental movement and the faith community has been a tragically unreflective one. My suspicion is that much of this religious environmentalism results from a woeful lack of understanding of business, specifically, and economics, broadly speaking. These activists, especially those deeply convinced of the radical environmental agenda, are often more concerned with the social and political aims of the environmental agenda, and disregard the facts presented by a proper understanding of economics and the workings of the free market.”

“Most especially, these activists dismiss the notion that the business community has any moral potential at all. Such a negative view of economic reality reflects a grave misunderstanding of Christian anthropology, which understands humankind as imbued with creativity and dignity. The Christian view understands that man is a steward of creation's resources and dismisses the notion that man is merely a consumer and polluter. Corporations like Exxon Mobile have done humanity a great service by developing the energy resources necessary for heating homes, powering our global transportation infrastructure, and providing meaningful employment throughout the global economy. The assumption that because a corporation makes a profit it is somehow morally less significant or exploitative dismisses the real gains in living conditions and quality of life that such enterprises have made possible. All of us wish to see corporations and businesses of all kinds act in an ethically proper way. Such judgments, however, must be in accord with sound scientific research, a proper understanding of economics, and a correct understanding of human anthropology. Any activism unhinged from these core principles is not only irresponsible, but is bound to have disastrous effects on economic development and human flourishing throughout the world.”

About the Acton Institute
With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles." For more on the Acton Institute, please visit www.acton.org.

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at jcouretas@acton.org.