Evangelicals Oppose Chairman Bishop's Gutting of Antiquities Act

A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox,

President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network

October 11, 2017 

Our public lands are national treasures to be stewarded and preserved for us and our children, and are part of our worship of God.  That’s why we oppose H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act (CAP Act).  The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Rob Bishop, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.  It is being marked up this week.

Contrary to its name, the bill’s aim is to severely weaken the Antiquities Act, a vital law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt.  Since becoming law it has been used by 16 Presidents, eight from each party.  Talk about bipartisanship!

If Chairman Bishop has his way and this bill were to become law, Teddy Roosevelt would not have been able to designate the Grand Canyon a National Monument, providing it with vital protection until it became a National Park.

As a nation, we have protected our public lands through our National Parks and National Forests, through designation as Wilderness, and through the ability of the President to designate land already owned by the federal government as National Monuments by the authority provided by the Antiquities Act.  Nearly half our National Parks, including the Grand Canyon, were first protected by Presidents of both parties who designated them National Monuments. 

As stewards of these national treasures we must be ever vigilant against attempts to sell them, transfer them, or weaken their protections, or to weaken the laws that make our public lands possible.  Unfortunately, Chairman Bishop’s bill would do just that.

Pro-life Christians are called to be good stewards of the bounty upon which all life depends, to protect and defend the beauty and purity of the land and water, to have clean skies and fresh air for our children to enjoy. Our public lands are essential to our quality of life.  They make available to everyone what belongs to God. They reflect our highest ideals as a nation: that everyone is welcome because all individuals are created equal, endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To step into a National Park or Forest or National Monument and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation is to experience freedom and the richness of life as persons made in the image of God.

That's why over 230,000 of us took action calling “to protect our parks and federal lands, add new ones, and ensure funding so that every American can enjoy the beauty of God's creation.”  A strong Antiquities Act is essential for achieving these goals.  That is why we oppose H.R. 3990.  We urge all Members of Congress to reject this bill, and ask Members of the House Resources Committee to vote down this bill in committee.

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