Faith Groups Speak Out on the Environment
The Dalai Lama
The scientific consensus is overwhelming: human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a planetary scale... Collectively, we are violating the first precept—“do not harm living beings”—on the largest possible scale. And we cannot foresee the biological consequences for human life when so many species that invisibly contribute to our own well-being vanish from the planet...[The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change]
As signatories to this statement of Buddhist principles, we acknowledge the urgent challenge of climate change. In accordance with Buddhist teachings, we accept our individual and collective responsibility to do whatever we can to meet this target, including (but not limited to) the personal and social responses outlined above.
We have a brief window of opportunity to take action, to preserve humanity from imminent disaster and to assist the survival of the many diverse and beautiful forms of life on Earth. Future generations, and the other species that share the biosphere with us, have no voice to ask for our compassion, wisdom, and leadership. We must listen to their silence. We must be their voice, too, and act on their behalf
Pope Benedict XVI
If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because “creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works”, and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise...threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen “that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.[ Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010.]
The goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole. Yet the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain natural resources not only for the present generation, but above all for generations yet to come. It is not hard to see that environmental degradation is often due to the lack of far-sighted official policies or to the pursuit of myopic economic interests, which then, tragically, become a serious threat to creation. To combat this phenomenon, economic activity needs to consider the fact that “every economic decision has a moral consequence” and thus show increased respect for the environment.
Christian Reformed Church
Office of Social Justice
We lament that our abuse of creation[Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony in 2008]
has brought lasting damage
to the world we have been given:
streams and soil,
poisoning the air,
altering the climate,
and damaging the earth.
We commit ourselves
to honor all God’s creatures
and to protect them
from abuse and extinction,
for our world belongs to God.
Evangelical Climate Initiative
Human-Induced Climate Change is Real and increasing international instability, which could lead to more security threats to our nation. Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. ... Low-lying regions, indeed entire islands, could ﬁnd themselves under water. (This is not to mention the various negative impacts climate change could have on God’s other creatures.) Each of these impacts increases the likelihood of refugees from ﬂooding or famine, violent conﬂicts, Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors. Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action]
In the United States, the most important immediate step that can be taken at the federal level is to pass and implement national legislation requiring sufﬁcient economy-wide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through cost-effective, market based mechanisms such as a cap-and-trade program.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
This church will favor proposals and actions that address environmental issues in a manner consistent with the principles of participation, solidarity, sufficiency, and sustainability. These proposals and actions will address: excessive consumption and human population pressures; international development, trade, and debt; ozone depletion; and climate change. They will seek: to protect species and their habitats; to protect and assure proper use of marine species; and to protect portions of the planet that are held in common, including the oceans and the atmosphere.[Environment Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice, 08/28/1993]
Church House of Bishops
Resolved that the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with those communities who bear the greatest burdens of global climate change: indigenous peoples, subsistence communities, communities of color, and persons living in deprivation around the world; and be it further[Unnumbered Resolution: The Episcopal Church commits to Climate Justice for all God’s People and all God’s Creation, July 2012]
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and corporate offices of The Episcopal Church, to work for the just transformation of the world’s energy beyond and away from fossil fuels (including all forms of oil, coal, and natural gas) and toward safe, sustainable, renewable, community controlled energy, and that fossil fuel workers and their families be supported during the transition to a “post-carbon” society.
The Dioceses of the Episcopal Church have expressed support for the adoption of legislation to limit carbon emissions.
Hyder Ihsan Mahasneh, biologist and Islamic scholar
Allah, in His Wisdom, appointed humans, the creatures that He has conferred with the faculty of reason and with free will, to be His vice regents on earth. And while Allah has invited people to partake of the fruits of the earth for their rightful nourishment and enjoyment, He has also directed them not to waste that which Allah has provided for him—for He loveth not wasters.[Faiths and Ecology: Islamic Faith Statement]
Furthermore, Allah has also ordered humans to administer his responsibilities with Justice. Above all, people should conserve the balance of Allah’s creation on Earth. By virtue of their intelligence, humanity (when it believes in the One Universal Allah, the Creator of the Universe) is the only creation of Allah to be entrusted with the overall responsibility of maintaining planet Earth in the overall balanced ecology that man found.
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
'Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live' (Deuteronomy 30:20). Humankind has solemn obligation to improve the world for future generations. Minimizing climate change requires us to learn how to live within the ecological limits of the earth so that we will not compromise the ecological or economic security of those who come after us....[Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change, 06/1998]
We urge the federal government to immediately adopt a variety of policies to accomplish such reductions, particularly programs that use pricing to lower demand for fossil fuels, encourage the development of non-polluting energy sources, and raise revenue for public projects, such as mass transit, that would lower carbon emissions. Additionally, standards relating to fossil fuel use, such as power plant emissions standards and motor vehicle fuel efficiency standards, should require the use of the most advanced fuel efficiency and emissions reduction technologies available. Such policies must be complemented with programs to help those who live in the United States whose economic security would be jeopardized by such policies, including assistance to poor people to compensate for increased expenses for electricity, fuel, and transportation and retraining and economic transition assistance for coal miners and other affected workers.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis has expressed support for the adoption of climate legislation.
National Association of Evangelicals
Dorothy Boorse, Ph.D, on behalf of the National Association of Evangelicals Board
The term stewardship is often used to describe how we ought to think of our relationship to God’s creation. We are like the servants in the parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). The natural world is a precious gift for which we will be held accountable. We hold it in trust for God, but we also hold it for the next generations.[Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment (pdf), 2011]
It is tempting but unwise to assume that God would prevent us from drastically harming the earth. God is sovereign, yet he allows us to experience the natural outcomes of our own actions. God lets us make poor decisions about our household budgets. He allows us to eat poorly... Likewise, even though God cares and provides for the creatures of the earth, humans have the freedom to make decisions that harm even the basic functions of ecosystems, decisions such as polluting the oceans and deliberately or carelessly setting forest fires. God does not always choose to step in and save us from the consequences of our actions in other areas of our lives, and we should not assume that he will do so when we are unfaithful stewards of the earth.
Exercising stewardship calls us to plan ahead and to use our God given gifts, abilities and natural resources to care for this world he created. In today’s reality, that includes considering our changing environment in order to evaluate how best to care for what he has entrusted to us.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The 218th General Assembly: 1. Finds that the Christian mandate to care for creation and the biblical promise of the restoration of right relationships between God, human beings, and the rest of creation impels and inspires us to act to reduce our energy usage. 2. Finds that the urgency, injustice, and seriousness of this issue calls us as Christians to act NOW and to act boldly to lead the way in reducing our energy usage. 3. Strongly urges all Presbyterians to immediately make a bold witness by aspiring to live carbon neutral lives.[Carbon Neutral Resolution, 2008]
The Presbyterian Church has already undertaken a wide variety of actions designed to reduce energy consumption..
Religious Society of Friends
Friends Committee on National Legislation
'The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.' We believe that humankind must respect the ecological integrity and the sacredness of the natural world. People must choose activities, create institutions, and establish policies and laws that are beneficial to the earth and will help protect and regenerate its ecosystems.
We recognize that issues regarding the use and protection of the earth's resources are global and require mutual respect and cooperation with every community on earth. Environmental degradation and resource scarcity are among the underlying causes of violence and war. We believe that Friends' testimonies on peace and simplicity have deep relevance to the global environmental crisis.
Humanity must commit to curbing excessive and destructive consumption and pollution. We believe that these responsibilities are urgent and must be acted upon globally, nationally, locally, and individually..
The Friends Committee on National Legislation has expressed support for renewing the moral call to action, approaching environmental concerns from the perspective of faith..
Southern Baptist Conference
Environment and Climate Initiative
There is undeniable evidence that the earth—wildlife, water, land and air—can be damaged by human activity, and that people suffer as a result. When this happens, it is especially egregious because creation serves as revelation of God’s presence, majesty and provision. Though not every person will physically hear God’s revelation found in Scripture, all people have access to God’s cosmic revelation: the heavens, the waters, natural order, the beauty of nature (Psalm 19; Romans 1). We believe that human activity is mixed in its impact on creation—sometimes productive and caring, but often reckless, preventable and sinful.[A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change]
In the face of intense concern and guided by the biblical principle of creation stewardship, we resolve to engage this issue without any further lingering over the basic reality of the problem or our responsibility to address it. Humans must be proactive and take responsibility for our contributions to climate change—however great or small.
Baptist Leaders have expressed support for the passage of climate change legislation.
Unitarian Universalist Association
2006 Statement of Conscience
As Unitarian Universalists, we are called by our seventh Principle to affirm and promote "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." We envision a world in which all people are assured a secure and meaningful life that is ecologically responsible and sustainable, in which every form of life has intrinsic value... Affirming that we are of this earth and that humankind has brought about global warming/climate change, we, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, pledge to ground our missions and ministries in reverence for this earth and responsibility to it as we undertake these personal practices, congregational actions, and advocacy goals.[Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change, 2006]
The Unitarian Universalist Association has been active on many environmental issues, including protesting the Keystone XL pipeline..
United Church of Christ
The Twenty-sixth General Synod of the United Church of Christ admits Christian complicity in the damage human beings have caused to the earth's climate system and other planetary life systems, and urges recommitment to the Christian vocation of responsible stewardship of God's creation, and expresses profound concern for the pending environmental, economic, and social tragedies threatened by global warming, to creation, human communities and traditional sacred spaces;[A Resolution on Climate Change,2007]
The Twenty-sixth General Synod of the United Church of Christ urges the United States Government to respond to global warming with great urgency and firm leadership by supporting mandatory measures that reduce the absolute amount of green house gas emissions, and in particular emissions of carbon dioxide, to levels recommended by nationally and internationally recognized and respected scientific bodies;
The Twenty-sixth Synod of the United Church of Christ urges state and local governments to support and invest in energy conservation and, specifically, in sustainable, renewable and affordable systems of transportation, and calls on business and industry to lead in responses to global warming through increased investments in efficient and sustainable energy technologies that are economically accessible and just
The United Church of Christ has taken action against the Keystone XL pipeline, among other environmental issues.
United Methodist Church
General Board of Church and Society
The crisis facing God's earth is clear. We, as stewards, have failed to live into our responsibility to care for creation and have instead abused it in ways that now threaten life around the planet.[ Issues: Climate Justice]
As a matter of stewardship and justice, Christians must take action now to reduce global warming pollution and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world whose land, livelihood and lives are threatened by the global climate crisis.
The Methodist Church has expressed support for the adoption of environmental legislation.
Interfaith and Ecumenical Statements
World Council of Churches
WCC's and the ecumenical movement politics and actions on climate change are rooted in the Bible which teaches the wholeness of creation and the centrality of justice in the Christian message. God creates human beings and charges humanity to are for the earth (Gen 2:15), to be stewards of it. The God of the Bible, at the same time, is a God of justice who cares for the most vulnerable ones: the poor, the orphan, the widow, the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). Bearing the marks of human sin, "creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God" (Romans 8:19). The work for climate justice is a response from the churches to the challenge of climate change.[Climate Change and the World Council of Churches, March 2011]
The World Council of Churches has expressed support for the adoption of international treaties to limit carbon emissions to 350 parts per million.
FCNL developed this resource to illustrate the multidenominational support for the urgent need to protect our climate, resources, and the natural world from the forces of human destruction. The information was compiled by Hannah Solomon-Strauss, program assistant for sustainable energy and the environment.
Revised September 2012.