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Religious Freedom Helps Tackle Climate Change

30 Oct, 2019

By Brian J. Grim

Religious freedom sets people free to make faith-based arguments about the environment and climate change. And this includes from within groups that are often seen as not veery warm to human-caused climate change arguments.

For example, “When evangelical environmentalists talk about climate change, they don’t stick to sea level rise projections and the carbon emissions associated with red meat,” says Olivia Goldhill. “Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, national organizer and spokesperson at Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), also points to the psalms, and the Old and New Testaments. These texts emphasize how God created and loves the Earth, and wants humans to love it too. So for Meyaard-Schaap, choosing to care for the planet—and fight climate change—is simply following his God’s wishes.”

Pope Francis is in many ways the most prominent religious voice for addressing climate changes. This past September, he stated, ““And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25). God’s gaze, at the beginning of the Bible, rests lovingly on his creation. From habitable land to life-giving waters, from fruit-bearing trees to animals that share our common home, everything is dear in the eyes of God, who offers creation to men and women as a precious gift to be preserved. Tragically, the human response to this gift has been marked by sin, selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit. Egoism and self-interest have turned creation, a place of encounter and sharing, into an arena of competition and conflict. In this way, the environment itself is endangered: something good in God’s eyes has become something to be exploited in human hands.” (Message of the Holy Father Francis for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,1st September 2019)

In fact, almost every faith tradition speaks about the importance of taking care of Creation. It’s not just a fad, but a sacred duty. If religions had no freedom to have a voice, there would be far less thinking and arguably doing on how to address climate change.

Religious Statements on Climate Change

Most religious communities have released statements on Climate Change and the need to care for Creation. The following list (put together by Interfaith Power & Light) demonstrates the unity within the religious community on these important issues.

Baha’i

Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the Challenge of Climate Change

A statement of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France

Buddhist

The Time to Act is Now – A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change

A Western Soto Zen Buddhist Statement on the Climate Crisis

Christian

Joint Statement on Environment by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Sept 1, 2017

17 Anglican Bishops across six continents issue urgent call for climate justice

Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada – A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

Baptist – A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change

Catholic – U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Climate Change

Catholic – Vatican on Climate Change

Catholic – Pope Mass: Protecting Creation a Christian responsibility

Catholic – Frequently Asked Questions on the Papal Encyclical

Church of the Brethren – Statement on Global Climate Change

Eastern Orthod0x – Statement on the Environment

Episcopal Church – Sustaining Hope in the Face of Climate Change

Evangelical Climate Initiative – Call to Action

Evangelical Lutheran Church of America – Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice

Evangelical Lutheran Church of America – Issue Paper: Global Warming and Climate Change

Mennonite – Creation Care Network

Presbyterian Church USA – U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming

Quaker – Earthcare Mission Program

United Church of Christ – A Resolution on Climate Change

United Methodist Church – Church Statement on Climate Change

Hindu

Hindu Declaration on Climate Change

Interfaith

Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change (IDCC)

Jewish

The (Yale) Forum on Religion and Ecology – Judaism and Climate Change

Muslim

Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change

Sikh

Sikh Statement on Climate Change

Unitarian Universalist

Unitarian Universalist – Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change

Additional Statements

The (Yale) Forum on Religion and Ecology