Is Environmentalism a Religion?

Religion can be defined as a reverence for and devotion to something greater than the self; it is a system of belief that supersedes all else; and it is a belief in the sacred. Modern environmentalism, influenced by the ideas of Deep Ecology and other New Age or Pagan belief systems, has become for many a religion.

At its simplest form, the environmental religion proposes that the earth is one organism with one energy; a super bio-organism. We (humans, plants, water, animals, etc.) are all connected and are all one. Man happens to have reached the highest level of consciousness and as such has the greatest responsibility to tend to the Earth. This oneness arguably extends beyond the Earth to the universe. 

In this belief system, environmental activists naturally become so zealously involved that they revere environmental concerns above all else. And while they might not believe in a supernatural being, their devotion is no different than the Muslim pilgrim, born-again Christian, or Buddhist monk.

A quick look around society will tell one that the environmentalists are fast at work evangelizing the world with their beliefs. The message is in schools, on TV, in ads, and heavily influencing many levels of government in America and around the world.

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Boaz responds to a NPR discussion on religion, science, and environmentalism featuring Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood, and Rick Kleffel. He concludes with a pithy jab, "Novelist Michael Crichton...

"School children, businesses, clergy, politicians and even the United States military soon will honor the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union.

Of course, they will call it Earth Day.

Brian Sussman points out in his explosive new book, 'Eco-Tyranny: How the Left's Green Agenda will Dismantle America,' that the first nationwide Earth Day was held April 22, 1970...

"For some individuals and societies, the role of religion seems increasingly to be filled by environmentalism. ... In parts of northern Europe, this new faith is now the mainstream. 'Denmark and Sweden float along like small, content, durable dinghies of secular life, where most people are nonreligious and don’t worship Jesus or Vishnu, don’t revere sacred texts,...

Crichton argues that one of the most powerful religions in the Western world is environmentalism. As a religion, he explains how it falls into fundamentalist, ideological traps. Environmentalists are certain of many things--global warming is man-made, oil will run out sooner rather than later, current rates of world population growth are unsustainable--and because they believe these things...

The National Center for Policy Analysis summarizes the conclusions of Robert H. Nelson's article, "Bruce Babbitt, Pipeline to the Almighty."

Ball's short piece highlights the "progressive-reactionist" nature of the bio-centric philosophy that currently holds sway in much of academia and large portions of the environmental movement. Progressive in their drive to make every living being on earth equal on a cellular level - plant life not excluded....

"All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and...

According to Ashley Thorne, the movement to promote sustainability on college campuses has extended to include trayless cafeterias. Thorne notes that "the rationale [behind this] is both...

Analysis Report White Paper

This paper briefly makes the case that man is genetically encoded to connect with nature, or creation. This biological desire is expressed through science and religion. It further asserts that all things of the earth are linked, all forms of life and other forms of nature, and that link provides a basis for a ecocentric morality. This is a good article to brief yourself on the basic premise...

Taylor argues, "that although participants in countercultural movements often eschew the label religion, these are religious movements, in which these persons find ultimate meaning and transformative power in nature." This piece also provides a brief history of the rise of religious environmentalism and deep ecology, beginning with Arne Naess in Norway in 1972 and arriving in North America...

Taylor argues, "that although participants in countercultural movements often eschew the label religion, these are religious movements, in which these persons find ultimate meaning and transformative power in nature." This piece also provides a brief history of the rise of religious environmentalism and deep ecology, beginning with Arne Naess in Norway in 1972 and arriving in North America...

Lovelock is a scientists and environmentalist who proposed the Gaia Hypothesis which essentially argues that earth, including everything on it and in it, are one superorganism. In this piece, Lovelock traces the changing view on earth and science in the mid to late 20th century, how he developed the Gaia...

This article serves both as a synopsis of Paul Shephard's A Post-Historic Primitivism and, to some extent, an update. Believing that climate change will soon collapse industrial civilization, Bender and Shephard advocate a repudiation of Western Industrialized Civilization, and a return to the "old ways" of our hunter/gatherer forebears. Central to this belief is the idea that "history" is...

As the title suggests, this piece traces the roots of the sustainability movement and details the various areas that the sustainability mindset especially affects. According to Ricketts, "'Sustainability' connects to these antecedents, but has more direct...

Video/Podcast/Media

This audio recording discusses the religiously motivated ideas of the environmental movement. According to these speakers, many comparisons can be drawn between the environmental movement and other religions. Robert Nelson also addresses the issue of...

A short film in which a frog saves the earth, and itself, by removing industry. Friends of the Earth is a large, prominent environmental group.

A group of Earth First! activists gather to mourn the loss of old growth forest in South Carolina. Earth First! activists feel a deep, spiritual kinship to the "natural environment."

The film features Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Ruth, John Seed, and Matthew Fox speaking on Deep Ecology, Living Democracy, and Revolution in Consciousness.

John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, played a critical role in the preservation and conservation of land in the United States. He can safely be considered one of the fathers of the modern environmental movement and a key influencer on its religious nature. This short video of readings is good example of how he inspired others to view nature as holy.

"An eight minute film revealing the...

Primary Document

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) is a great inspiration to many modern environmentalists and ecologists. His land ethic is a foundational concept for the green movement:

"All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of...

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