The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization used to message left-of-center policy issues to otherwise conservative-leaning Christians. EEN was founded in 1993, and officially formed as a 501(c)3 in 2004. EEN, as of 2014, had total revenue of $948,968, expenditures of $957,054 and ran a negative fund balance of $23,521.
The current president of EEN is the Reverend Mitch Hescox. Hescox describes his work as messaging to Christian evangelicals concerned about climate change and other environmental issues. The board members of EEN are also active. In 2012, Dr. Emilio Marrero, the Chairman of the EEN board, wrote an op-ed about an EEN campaign called What Would Jesus Drive? The campaign was used to promote higher fuel standards. Leroy Barber, another board member of EEN, also has stated that the very liberal city of Portland, Oregon “celebrates whiteness” and is the center of racist culture.
The group is substantially funded by progressive environmentalist donor foundations. EEN received $1.25 million, between 2008 and 2013, from the Marisla Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Energy Foundation. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Energy Foundation are funded in part by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Founding, Early Associations
EEN was founded in 1993 by the joint action of two organizations, the Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) and World Vision. EEN has branded much of their work under the mantra of “Creation Care.” “Creation Care”, according to EEN, means stopping all activities that can be deemed harmful to the environment.
EEN has been described as an influential organization founded by Ronald J. Sider, a well known activist in the environmental movement. Ron Sider has called for socialized medicine, a carbon trading program and an increase in the minimum wage. EEN tactics have also been described as attempts to, “capitalize on the conservative commitment to ‘family values,’ (by) launch(ing) a “Healthy Families, Healthy Environment” campaign in 2001.”
Noah’s Ark, Endangered Species Act
In 1996, EEN collaborated with World Vision and ESA to defend the Endangered Species Act from Republican-backed reforms when it was due for reauthorization. During the media campaign the then Outreach Coordinator of the ESA described the work. “(W)e circulate radio scripts to religious radio stations to highlight the activities of creation care. (We) started to look at a broad range of laws in our land that are under attack and tried to decide is there any reason why a Christian would want to voice a biblical opinion about these laws.”
Messaging to Evangelical Conservatives
EEN claims a network of 80 evangelical organizations that work within the network to promote environmental reforms and policies to evangelical Christians. Pastor Hescox, the current president of EEN, has been a strong advocate of ending “energy poverty” by showing the cost of energy through public health costs. Hescox believes that because poorer populations do not have access to “sustainable” clean energy that they tend to suffer more than other populations.
EEN uses billboards, radio, TV and emails to message environmental issues to evangelicals. In 2012, EEN applauded a vote on a bill in the U.S. Senate that rejected a measure to lighten Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. The bill would have rolled back the measures, which opponents have said could cause power plants to shut down and reliability of the power grid to suffer.
In EEN’s push for more stringent environmental regulations and policies they attempt to center the advocacy around the message of “Creation Care.” The effort by EEN is also to get environmental advocacy away from generally more liberal demographics. EEN has promoted campaigns like “Healthy Families, Health Environment” and “What Would Jesus Drive.” EEN also tailors environmental advocacy as a “pro-life” issue. In 2014, EEN distributed a signature petition in Florida to convince Governor Rick Scott (R) to act on global warming because of his “pro-life” stance.
In 2017, Hescox, working with the Partnership for Responsible Growth, ran a series of TV ads advocating putting a price on carbon emissions. Critics have stated this would in fact hurt the poorest populations by increasing the price of basic energy needs like power, water and fuel.
Political Association with Democratic Activities
While over the past few years Mitch Hescox has tried to distance EEN from traditional Democratic policy stances (even calling the Sierra Club “a bunch of weirdos”), EEN is directly connected to Democratic operatives used to message policies to Democratic demographics. In EEN’s 2014 Form 990, they spent $138,000 on “Media Consulting” with Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, who describe themselves as a, “Democratic media consulting firm.”
Devine Mulvey Longabaug (DML) can be found on the Democratic National Committee’s preferred “Supplier Diversity List.” DML also lists former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) as clients. DML also represents the League of Conservation Voters, which was founded by David Brower, the Sierra Club’s first Executive Director.