Last month, we gave a very basic explanation of the science that shows us climate change is happening right now. This month, we want to share what faith communities are saying about climate change. No surprise here – they say being a person of faith and addressing climate change go hand in hand.
Religious leaders as diverse as Popes Francis and Benedict, the Dalai Lama, the Eastern Orthodox Bishops, the Conference of American Rabbis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit, and the World Council of Churches are speaking out about climate change. They strongly support taking immediate and swift action.
Organizations like Interfaith Power and Light, and leaders in faith communities even closer to home are sharing that message too. Care for creation and for one's neighbor were prominent messages at discussion panels hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs this year.
In Polson, Montana, Dr. Dan Spencer, an ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, explained “action on climate change is very consistent with Christian values,” especially considering that climate change will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations.
He is puzzled by the widely held assumption that religious belief and action on climate change are at odds. “It’s right there in the biblical book of Genesis – all of creation is beloved by God, and we are to protect it and be good stewards of the land.”
Stewardship was also emphasized at the panel in Ames, Iowa. Panelist Arlyn Schipper, a Grundy County grain farmer, stated “my theory is, to be a Christian farmer, we need to do good stewardship no matter what.” He thinks we have a moral obligation to care for the land and build awareness about climate change.
Lisa Coons, who co-directs the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry in Mankato, Minnesota, joined the panel in St. Peter, Minnesota. She echoes the call to educate our neighbors and leaders about what drives climate change, and what we can do to address it. Working together as a community, she says, is one of biggest things we can do to have an impact.
The Earth is our home. It is ours to cherish, protect, and preserve. Communities of faith are among the first to remind us of our responsibility to it, and to each other.
Visit cfra.org/climate to read more about what the faith community is saying and doing to encourage climate change action.