With war in Iraq appearing imminent, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes in mid-February bleating about U.S. dependence on Mideast oil. Besides stridently opposing domestic energy development, Kennedy also labeled any American who drives a sports utility vehicle (SUV) as “unpatriotic.” This from a guy who travels by private jet and has multiple home locations.

That type of hypocrisy is par for the course for folks like Kennedy and others of his environmental leftist ilk. Remember a few years back when Al Gore traveled in a caravan of more than a dozen Chevy Suburbans to speak to an Earth Day rally?

Jesus Behind The Wheel

Last Thanksgiving, a U.S. television commercial posed to viewers the question: “Would Jesus drive an SUV?” It was a campaign kicked off by a caravan of hybrid electric Toyotas being driven by nuns to Detroit to deliver a delegation of religious leaders for a meeting with executives of Ford, General Motors and the United Auto Workers.

The caravan's goals were to promote an increase in federal fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks, and to lobby Detroit for more research and development in fuel-efficient vehicles. Apparently, these clergy's study of Scripture led them to the revelation that God desired a minimum fuel efficiency standard of 40 miles/gal.

Obviously, a campaign such as “What would Jesus drive?” is a bid to inject a higher credibility — and consciousness — into a secular decision. For the record, I have no idea what Jesus Christ would slip behind the wheel of in this day and age. I suspect, however, that if he hoped to transport more than an apostle or two with him, he'd opt for the larger cargo capacity of an SUV.

Interestingly, an outfit called the Christian Vegetarian Association also uses a similar approach in asking folks: “What would Jesus eat?”

The SUV-Jesus campaign was sponsored by the Sierra Club, the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (CEJL). You might recall that the Sierra Club and NCC also teamed up last year on a television ad opposing oil exploration in Alaska.

Also among NCC's stances are positions in favor of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and organic farming, and against the use of biotechnology in food production, corporate farming and food irradiation. The group also campaigned, among other things, on behalf of executive clemency for Leonard Peltier, who's currently serving a life sentence for the 1975 murders of two FBI agents in South Dakota.

What's interesting about this particular SUV campaign is that the Left has apparently found religion. After all, no political faction has worked harder for the implementation of an extremist interpretation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. To suddenly find religion in regard to the environment and a whole host of other social issues perhaps speaks to the ineffectiveness of the movement's earlier efforts.

And it's not just within the U.S., or among the more fringe church groups that this is happening. Here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Catholic Conference last summer called for bishops to work to stop urban sprawl, to outlaw food irradiation and to advocate for a minimum wage hike for all workers and eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. These were the action points that emerged from a Rural Issues Forum and Ecumenical Listening Session sponsored by the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Minnesota Council of Churches, and endorsed by seven bishops.

As a Catholic, I'll give it to the church on matters of faith. When it comes to science, however, I think I'll trust a PhD.

Ideological hijackings such as that which emerged in Minnesota last summer should concern all folks on the land. Unchallenged, such positions and movements could raise havoc for civil liberties and property rights in the future.

If religious institutions have a moral imperative to work to illuminate secular evils, they also have a moral obligation to use their credibility wisely. That means knowing what they're talking about when they go beyond the spiritual realm. It's up to those of us in those congregations to make sure our voices are heard on such issues.