THE REAL DIRT

HOW GREEN IS YOUR GOD? Comment piece by Dr Steve Douglas

May 15th, 2008 · No Comments · News

Story by Dr Steve Douglas

Keep an eye on any Church-owned bushland.

In spite of the growing list of environmental policies and proclamations emerging from the Churches, they continue to pursue the construction of facilities such as schools and nursing homes in areas of remnant vegetation. They’ll likely comply with all the environmental laws in the assessment of their development applications, but they may choose consultants who are less than competent or ethical and they may hide behind company names that don’t reveal that a Church is the ultimate proponent. Until the Churches put ecological managers on par with their now-dominant economic managers, we’ll continue to see Churches and associated organisations and businesses applying to subdivide and/or clear bushland and wetlands. Churches now write and speak of environmentalism, and some of their scholars, clergy and lay members genuinely and profoundly understand and practice it. However, the Churches function much more like businesses and their people who understand environmentalism are not in decision-making roles. Despite the policies and rhetoric, most Church decision-makers will sacrifice bushland, no matter its non-economic value, in order to save money, make money, or expand their infrastructure. When I see the Churches open their real estate portfolios to the scrutiny of conservation groups and government environment agencies so that important bushland can be identified and set aside by negotiation, only then will I believe in the true ‘greening’ of the Churches.

Dr Steve Douglas researched the environmental policies and practices of the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting Churches for his PhD at the Australian National University.

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