Government Science News: 19th Century Jesus Edition

I was just checking out for super-serious professional reasons (4 realz). Of course, I didn't find what I was looking for. Instead, I found something I most certainly wasn't looking for:
EPA Launches Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative/EPA’s coordination with White House effort will support environmental education and healthier families
For the record, I find this tiring.

True story, I've been known to teach students about environmental quality and environmental justice. Based on this, I present two personal observations:

1) Unless you're doing some smart-ass analysis of the way various religions support capitalism, I think it's reasonably safe to say that faith-based organizations aren't major drivers of environmental degradation. I mean, I know the College of Cardinals does that cool black smoke, white smoke thing every time it decides upon a new Pope, but I don't recall a rash of nitrate-tainted holy water fouling this nation's water supply. So I don't think it's crucial for the secular government of the United States of America to violate the First Amendment in order to get churches to fix their pollution problem. That's clearly not what's going on here.

2) I'm aware that there's a history of church congregations organizing to fight for the health and safety of their communities. I would classify that as activism. The government doesn't really need activists per se, in that it's the government for christsake. Faith-based organizations can organize to demand that "something be done", but the folks that need to be doing the something tend to be working for the government and/or corporations.

Aside from the obvious constitutional issues, as far as I'm concerned, the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is an instrument of liberal social reform at its worst. People who need help securing healthy food to eat or clean air to breathe generally have a pretty good handle on the nature of their situation, they're just powerless to do anything about it. In other words, this:
Strong relationships with faith and neighborhood organizations will help promote environmental stewardship that will lead to cleaner communities, encourage healthier families and build a stronger America.
is garbage. Working-class communities (and frequently working-class communities of color) aren't the ones deciding to build garbage incinerators or smelting plants in their neighborhoods; corporations, and yes, governments, are. Our neighborhoods aren't unhealthy places to live due to a failure of local stewardship, but rather because of a failure of governance. Accordingly, it's more than a bit disengineous for the EPA to shift the blame for environmental problems to the powerless while claiming that churches have the solution. I mean, that's "progressive", but only in the sense that Jane Addams was a progressive over a century ago.

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