The Times Embraces Religious Activists - on the Left

The Times Magazine celebrates a left-wing order of nuns going after ExxonMobil on global warming.

A Sunday Magazine story by contributing writer Daskha Slater, "Resolved: Public Corporations Shall Take Us Seriously," profiled Sister Patricia Daly of the order of the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, N.J. The blurb on the cover: "The Nun Who Would Turn ExxonMobil Green." No surprise where this story is going, then.

Slater has written for left-wing magazines Salon and Mother Jones and is clearly comfortable with these left-wing religious activists in a way you can hardly imagine a Times writer being with, say, a vigorously anti-abortion religious group.

"The ring tone on Sister Patricia Daly's cellphone is the 'Hallelujah' chorus from Handel's 'Messiah,' which makes every call sound as if it's coming from God. On the particular May afternoon, however, David Henry, who handles investor relations for the ExxonMobil Corporation, was on the line. Henry wanted to know if Daly planned to attend the annual shareholder meeting later that month - a rhetorical question, really, since Daly had been at every one of them for the past 10 years. At each she posed roughly the same question: What is ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, planning to do about global warming?"

Slater adopted Daly's moral fervor, casting doubters of global warming as immoral. One can't imagine a Times writer adopting the crusade of a conservative anti-porn crusader so avidly. It's a 5,000-word article, but this excerpt should give sufficient flavor of the complete article:

"For a certain kind of shareholder, particularly a religious shareholder, ExxonMobil poses a quandary. By every conventional measure, it is an exemplary investment. The company made $39.5 billion in profits in 2006, earnings that keep the value of its stock at around $85 per share and make it the most profitable American corporation, with a market value that is larger than the national budget of France. It is also the most technologically advanced of all the world's oil companies, and it has an admirable record of workplace safety and spill reduction.

"But these days, corporations are increasingly judged not only by their quarterly earnings but also by their commitment to social and environmental values, and by governance standards like openness and accountability. By these standards, ExxonMobil is a mess. The company retains a reputation for environmental skullduggery that dates from the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Its skeptical stance on global warming has earned it the disapprobation of everyone from the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific academy, to Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller. The company is known to be insular and hostile to the press (its representatives declined to be formally interviewed for this article), and its rumored and oft-denied participation in Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force did nothing to increase its popularity....Whether the company's seeming indifference to the impact its emissions have on global climate change will affect its profitability remains to be seen, but a growing number of analysts suggest that it could."