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Extinction Rebellion – the new religion with Greta as its saint


ADMIT it, the apocalyptic has always featured in church life. Both Old and New Testaments contain revelations of the dire consequences which are about to happen unless we fallen humans get our act together and begin to follow God’s teachings.

The history of the church is full of individuals and movements who imagined that they were prophets of God and whipped people up into a frenzy of fear about what they were utterly convinced would happen. The fact that their prophecies don’t transpire, and that dates for the final apocalypse have to be constantly readjusted, deters them not a whit.

Today, having abandoned the Christian faith, we have secular prophets of apocalypse just as frenzied as Christian millenarians, and just as full of faith that they are amongst the righteous and that those who don’t listen to them are sinners of the darkest hue. Extinction Rebellion is a quasi-religious secular sect which guarantees us that the end really is nigh this time, honest.

To emphasise their point they are blockading parts of London for a fortnight, dancing in the streets, glueing themselves to pavements and lying spreadeagled on top of aircraft. People are prevented from getting to work, the sick find their way to hospital blocked and the capital of the fifth-largest economy on earth is clogged with mime dancers and tent-dwelling bongo drummers.

The problem is that there is no scientific basis for their assertions. Even the most extreme, worst-case scenarios painted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) go nowhere near the claims of Extinction Rebellion.

On Thursday night, Andrew Neil questioned Extinction Rebellion spokesman Zion Lights about her organisation’s alarmist claims and anti-scientific arguments.

Extinction Rebellion claim that ‘billions of people will die over the next few decades’. Ms Lights eventually had to admit that what they were saying did not fall within the scientific mainstream, and disclosed what all apocalypse-mongers know, namely that ‘unfortunately alarmist language works’.

The science doesn’t matter. The hysteria of the messengers drowns out rational discussion. We are endlessly assured that it is a proven fact that billions are going to die, that there is a 50-50 chance that our children will live in an unrecognisable world. Ice caps will melt. Will nobody think of the polar bears?

Global warming activist Tim Flannery assures us that if we don’t listen to him and those like him the worst will happen: ‘If humans pursue a business-as-usual course for the first half of this century, I believe the collapse of civilisation due to climate change becomes inevitable.’

Environmental scientist James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis and godfather of climate alarmism, has conceded that some of his past pronouncements on the consequences of global warming were ‘alarmist’. In 2007 he assured us: ‘Before this century is over, billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic.’ 

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam has claimed: ‘We’re facing mass starvation in the next ten years, social collapse, the possible extinction of the human race.’

In 2006 the then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams confidently told us that the consequences of not taking immediate action would be the deaths of ‘billions of people’ worldwide from the effects of extreme climate change. 

There are voices within the church supporting the aims of Extinction Rebellion, which even has a Christian wing. Christian Climate Action is ‘the Christian arm of Extinction Rebellion. We take non-violent direct action to push for justice in this climate emergency’.  Paul Bayes, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, has urged Christians to support Extinction Rebellion.

In this quasi-religion, science is overshadowed by the spiritual fervour of the well-meaning middle class who at last have found a fashionable cause they can follow. When people abandon the faith of the Bible they don’t have a spiritual black hole in their lives: the vacuum is filled by another faith, usually one going to extremes such as communism, fascism and environmentalism.

Not having faith in the God of the Bible, they have substituted a fundamental belief in the morality of their cause which gainsays rational discussion. The Extinction elect who are so blindly assured of the righteousness of their faith even have a secular saint whom they idolise, one upon whose every word they hang, whose condemnations are received as blessings.

The sight of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg taking the United Nations to task, asking ‘How dare you?’ with world leaders lapping it up and applauding her every word should truly disturb adults. ‘We will not let you get away with this,’ she told the UN. Secretary General Antonio Guterres humbly responded by telling the assembled leaders: ‘Time is running out, but it is not too late.’

There were even voices crying out that Thunberg should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Before Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed was given the award for his work on international co-operation, Greta was the bookies’ favourite.

Admittedly the Peace Prize has lost credibility since Obama was awarded it for not being George W Bush. To have awarded it to a manipulated and disturbed teenager whose only achievement has been to spread alarmist propaganda inducing fear in other children would have been a new low.

Children’s crusades have a dodgy history; they never end well. Yet well-meaning parents encourage their children to ‘strike’ and walk away from school, and the world hangs on to every word they lisp.

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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