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Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption
Bipartisan Congressional action is vital to catalyze the necessary national and global solutions to climate disruption. FCNL's Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption seeks to dissipate the partisan logjam through a faith-filled, non-partisan moral call, led by concerned citizens across the nation, dialoguing directly and constructively with legislators. Faith-based approaches to contentious issues – when grounded in concern for the most vulnerable peoples and recognizing the Light within all people – can dissipate divisiveness and focus on values of fellowship, redemption, and a shared purpose.
For the past 3 years, we have adopted this approach with key legislators from both parties, asking that they come together to publicly declare that climate disruption is real, is primarily caused by human activities, and is inflicting great harm on present generations and our beloved Earth. This modest yet significant first step is necessary before solutions can happen: for Congress to solve a problem (climate disruption and partisan paralysis), it must first admit it has one.
We are pleased that after three years, the tone of Congress on climate disruption is indeed changing.
The Republican Climate Resolution
On September 17, 2015, a week prior to Pope Francis’ address to Congress, Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and 10 fellow House Republicans introduced a climate resolution – House Resolution 424 – the first formal and affirmative statement on climate disruption by a group of elected Republicans in Congress since 2008. It is the beginning of a new bipartisan spirit in Congress for meaningful legislation that can address the root causes and impacts of climate disruption.
The genesis of this resolution was our interfaith moral Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption. Over fifty interfaith delegations met with their legislators over a two year period to make this call. In September 2014, a delegation comprised of people of faith (Quaker, Catholic, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ), with the help of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, persuaded Rep. Gibson to draft a resolution. From that time until the resolution’s introduction a year later, this discreet, grassroots and Hill effort expanded to include a diverse group of organizations, including national security, conservative, environmental and business voices. Together, we garnered the co-sponsorship of 10 other House Republicans – a number which continues to grow.
The resolution’s introduction was a timely response to Pope Francis’ appeal to Congress on September 24, 2015, when he, using the language in Laudato Si, urged legislators to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home…We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
Significant faith traditions expressed support for the resolution, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Organizations from many sectors also expressed their support. The press coverage was positive with few exceptions (see e.g., Grist article). Other fissures in the partisan dam are already appearing. See the lists below regarding all of these statements. The Republican co-sponsors were delighted with the roll-out, receiving little or no negative response from colleagues, constituents and media. As the roll-out has gone better than expected, we are optimistic that more House Republicans will co-sponsor the resolution in the coming year.
Democracy In Action
The source of strength and the success of this effort lie with concerned citizens, exhibiting their faith in our democracy and the goodness within every person, by meeting with their representatives and engaging in constructive and persistent dialogue. They swim against the tide of cynicism about Congress and the seeming intractability of partisanship. Change for the better can happen. H. Res. 424 is tangible proof. Our Call to Conscience involves children who are middle school students, elders in their 80s and 90s, and peoples in between. These interactions with legislators affirm the political convention that the most effective way to persuade a legislator, is to meet with them (see e.g., this survey of 260 Congressional staffers). We welcome your interest in helping energizing our democracy and government of the people, by the people, and for the people.