Faith Statements on Environmental Issues (a sampling)
Anglican / Episcopal Statement 2009
The Lambeth Conferences of Anglican Bishops of 1998 and 2008 speak of creation as gift and
sacrament which must be treated with respect and that ‘human beings are both co-partners with
the rest of creation, and living bridges between heaven and earth with responsibility to make
personal and moral sacrifices for the common good of all creation’. The Anglican Consultative
Council meeting held in Jamaica earlier this year called upon Anglicans everywhere to reduce
their footprint by 5% year on year.
United Methodist Social Principle 160 I. The Natural World
All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect. Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, and lengthened and enriched our lives. However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, and misuse and overconsumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies. This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage that God has entrusted to all generations. Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.
A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change (Year 2000)
Humans Must Care for Creation and Take Responsibility for Our Contributions to Environmental Degradation.
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.
God’s command to tend and keep the earth (Genesis 2) did not pass away with the fall of man; we are still responsible. Lack of concern and failure to act prudently on the part of Christ-followers reflects poorly to the rest of the world. Therefore, we humbly take responsibility for the damage that we have done to God’s cosmic revelation and pledge to take an unwavering stand to preserve and protect the creation over which we have been given responsibility by Almighty God Himself.
Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict Xvi for The Celebration of The World Day of Peace
1 January 2010 – If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation
At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer heartfelt greetings of peace to all Christian communities, international leaders, and people of good will throughout the world. For this XLIII World Day of Peace I have chosen the theme: 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 to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the 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”.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Assembly Action CA01.07.57
Global Warming Passed by the 2001 Churchwide Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Resolved: To reaffirm the commitment of this church to the care of creation, including global warming, as part of the web of complex interwoven environmental concerns, as detailed in the 1993 “Social Statement on Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice”
Evangelical Call to Action
Claim 1: Human-Induced Climate Change is Real
Since 1995 there has been general agreement among those in the scientific community most seriously engaged with this issue that climate change is happening and is being caused mainly by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. Evidence gathered since 1995 has only strengthened this conclusion.
Because all religious/moral claims about climate change are relevant only if climate change is real and is mainly human-induced, everything hinges on the scientific data. As evangelicals we have hesitated to speak on this issue until we could be more certain of the science of climate change, but the signatories now believe that the evidence demands action:
• The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s most authoritative body of scientists and policy experts on the issue of global warming, has been studying this issue since the late 1980s. (From 1988-2002 the IPCC’s assessment of the climate science was Chaired by Sir John Houghton, a devout evangelical Christian.) It has documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last fifty years, projects that the average global temperature will continue to rise in the coming decades, and attributes “most of the warming” to human activities.
• The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, as well as all other G8 country scientific Academies (Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Russia), has concurred with these judgments.
• In a 2004 report, and at the 2005 G8 summit, the Bush Administration has also acknowledged the
reality of climate change and the likelihood that human activity is the cause of at least some of it.2
In the face of the breadth and depth of this scientific and governmental concern, only a small percentage
of which is noted here, we are convinced that evangelicals must engage this issue without any further
lingering over the basic reality of the problem or humanity’s responsibility to address it.
Claim 2: The Consequences of Climate Change Will Be Significant, and Will Hit the Poor the Hardest…
A Quaker Response (2009)
The crisis of global climate change represents a supreme test of humanity’s collective wisdom and courage. Our immoderate use of the Earth’s resources violates the entire biosphere, threatening the lives of millions of people and the habitats of thousands of species. Many of the poorest people are already suffering a changed climate; they are asking us all to act.
The Earth is God’s work and not ours to do with as we please. We recall Gandhi’s saying, often quoted by Quakers: ‘Live simply that others may simply live’. As a Quaker community, we do try to live what we believe, guided by the values of simplicity, truth, equality and peace. Too often we fall short of honouring them. Climate change is challenging us to ask anew what our faith leads us to do.
As individuals and as a community, we are now making the difficult decisions and plans necessary to limit our ecological impact to a sustainable level. With encouragement from one another, we are progressively reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources while stepping up our campaign for wider social change. As a small religious society, we take heart in belonging to a community of faith groups and others working towards the same goals in a hopeful spirit.
We gladly take up our responsibility and call for unprecedented international cooperation to enable the large cuts in global emissions which are required. This will be a difficult road to travel but we are prepared to support decision-makers in taking the radical steps necessary. We appreciate progress made and uphold decision-makers as they navigate conflicting priorities, yet we challenge them to hold faith with the goal and not bend to short-term expediency.
Hindu Declaration on Climate Change (2009)
The Hindu tradition understands that man is not separate from nature, that we are linked by spiritual, psychological and physical bonds with the elements around us. Knowing that the Divine is present everywhere
and in all things, Hindus strive to do no harm. We hold a deep reverence for life and an awareness that the
great forces of nature—the earth, the water, the fire, the air and space—as well as all the various orders of
life, including plants and trees, forests and animals, are bound to each other within life’s cosmic web.
Mahatma Gandhi urged, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If alive today, he would
call upon Hindus to set the example, to change our lifestyle, to simplify our needs and restrain our desires.
As one sixth of the human family, Hindus can have a tremendous impact. We can and should take the lead
in Earth-friendly living, personal frugality, lower power consumption, alternative energy, sustainable food
production and vegetarianism, as well as in evolving technologies that positively address our shared plight.
Hindus recognize that it may be too late to avert drastic climate change. Thus, in the spirit of vasudhaiva
kutumbakam, “the whole world is one family,” Hindus encourage the world to be prepared to respond with
compassion to such calamitous challenges as population displacement, food and water shortage, catastrophic
weather and rampant disease.
Islamic Faith Statement (2003)
Humanity’s most primordial concepts of religion relate to the environment. Human history on planet Earth is, on a geological scale, very short indeed. Planet Earth itself is a mere 3,800 million years old; human beings only appeared one million or maybe two million years ago.
…To survive in a given environment, humans have to adjust what they take from that environment to what can give them sustainable yields on (at the very least) an annual basis. In effect this meant that early humans had to learn to conserve at an early age. Being largely dependent on what was available rather than on what they could cultivate, they entered into a partnership with the environment.
To take more than the regenerative capacity of the environment could lead to serious subsequent exhaustion—quite rightly seen as harsh retribution from an angry God. The converse situation of exploitation with moderation led to sustained yields, which were (again, quite rightly) taken as having pleased God.
Ecology and Buddhism
Many Buddhist monks such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, Venerable Kim Teng, and Venerable Phra Phrachak emphasize the natural relationship between deep ecology and Buddhism. According to the Vietnamese monk Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Buddhists believe that the reality of the interconnectedness of human beings, society and Nature will reveal itself more and more to us as we gradually recover—as we gradually cease to be possessed by anxiety, fear, and the dispersion of the mind. Among the three—human beings, society, and Nature—it is us who begin to effect change. But in order to effect change we must recover ourselves, one must be whole. Since this requires the kind of environment favorable to one’s healing, one must seek the kind of lifestyle that is free from the destruction of one’s humanness. Efforts to change the environment and to change oneself are both necessary. But we know how difficult it is to change the environment if individuals themselves are not in a state of equilibrium.”
In order to protect the environment we must protect ourselves. We protect ourselves by opposing selfishness with generosity, ignorance with wisdom, and hatred with loving kindness. Selflessness, mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom are the essence of Buddhism. We train in Buddhist meditation which enables us to be aware of the effects of our actions, including those destructive to our environment. Mindfulness and clear comprehension are at the heart of Buddhist meditation. Peace is realized when we are mindful of each and every step.
Ten Jewish Teachings on Judaism and the Environment
Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Director, Fellowship Program and Rabbinic Scholar-in-Residence
1 .God created the universe. This is the most fundamental concept of Judaism. Its implications are that only God has absolute ownership over Creation (Gen. 1-2, Psalm 24:1, I Chron. 29:10-16). Thus Judaism’s worldview is theocentric not anthropocentric. The environmental implications are that humans must realize that they do not have unrestricted freedom to misuse Creation, as it does not belong to them. Everything we own, everything we use ultimately belongs to God. Even our own selves belong to God. As a prayer in the High Holiday liturgy proclaims, “The soul is Yours and the body is your handiwork.” As we are “sojourners with You, mere transients like our ancestors; our days on earth are like a shadow…” (I Chronicles 29:15), we must always consider our use of Creation with a view to the larger good in both time (responsibility to future generations) and space (others on this world). We must also think beyond our own species to that of all Creation.
Presbyterians for Earth Care
God, our gracious creator, redeemer and sustainer, bring us together to teach and inspire us that we might seek your justice for the earth and its peoples. Amen.
Dear Friends in Earth-Caring,
As you begin your vacation and conference planning for this year, please keep our PEC 2013 Conference “Ethical Earth Care: Keeping Creation Sacred” a priority. The conference is October 16-19 at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is a critical time for those of us who know the crisis that our planet is facing to gather, be in community, and seek new ways of sustainable living and being.
At the conference, there will be opportunities to learn, reflect, share and plan ways of seeking environmental and social justice, immersing ourselves in new ways of honoring the sacred space of the Earth. Our plenary sessions will be led by Larry Rasmussen, ThD, who will draw us toward an “Earth-Honoring Faith.” Worship and music led by the Revs. Neddy Astudillo and Bryan McFarland will invite us to engage our souls and faith in this work. All will guide us toward a deepened vision, seeking a new song in a strange land.
“…God’s work in creation is too wonderful, too ancient, too beautiful, too good to be desecrated…Restoring creation is God’s own work in our time, in which God comes both to judge and to restore…”
—Presbyterian Church (USA) Environmental Policy
Unitarian Universalist 2011 Statement of Conscience
Environmental concerns include the use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and hormones and high volumes of animal wastes produced by CAFOs, all of which can contaminate soil, air, and water. Contributors to global warming include the overreliance on fossil fuels for food production; the methane produced by animals, including but not limited to cattle, sheep, and pigs; and the long-distance transport of food. Expanding agriculture and animal farming often removes natural habitats and reduces natural biodiversity. An additional environmental concern is the deterioration of the oceans and their life forms due to overfishing and pollution.
Baha’i Faith Statement
For over 20 years, the Bahá’ís of the United States have worked with others to advance environmental awareness and sustainable development. Much of the inspiration for doing so comes from the Bahá’í sacred writings, which are imbued with a deep respect for the natural world and for the interconnectedness of all things.
For Bahá’ís, nature is seen as a divine trust that reflects the qualities and attributes of God and, as such, should be cherished. Like the adherents of other faith traditions, Bahá’ís are called upon to be stewards of the environment.
The Baha’is believe that religion and faith have very important roles to play in promoting preservation of the earth’s fragile ecosystems. We are proud to join a number of other faith communities in working toward these goals.
As a starting point, more information is at www.greenfaith.org