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Carl Pope is Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Since Pope’s appointment in 1992, Sierra Club has added 150,000 new members, bringing the total membership to 700,000. Pope has a[…]

The environmental movement has made a big mistake severing its ties to religious organizations, Pope says.

Religion and the Environmental Movement

Carl Pope: I think one of the major mistakes that environmentalism made was to sever its connection with churches, and temples, and mosques and all those things. When I started working in the Civil Rights Movement I did all my organizing out of Baptist churches and I’m not a Baptist. But I spent my time in the basements of Baptist churches in Arkansas. And I think it was a really serious mistake for my generation of environmentalists to sort of ignore that reality. So I think religion is an incredibly important force. Because if you take it away, what you’re left with is greed. I mean people do always worship something. And the god who is like ready to come in and fill the vacuum of the 21st century is mammon, and his temples are shopping malls. And I think all of us who don’t think that life is a commodity need to remember that you need to have some kind of spiritual idea that holds people together against that new religion. And it is a new religion.


Recorded on: September 27, 2007.