Quite a few years ago, I became a member of the Clergy Letter Project, which is an organization of over 15,000 clergy advocating for the compatibility of science and religion. It arose out of concern about some in the religious community denying science and evolution in particular.
Now that we find ourselves in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am seeing a rise in some in the religious community wanting to deny science, including a denial of the climate crisis. Recently, the Clergy Letter Project issued a letter regarding the climate crisis, which I have signed. The letter reads as follows:
The Climate Crisis: A Clergy Call to Action
We are faced with a crisis today.
A multitude of human activities including the use of fossil fuels, large-scale agriculture, and large-scale land clearance have modified the natural processes that sustain life in every ecosystem and culture on the entire planet. This is no longer a question for debate. The question we (humans) must answer—and the impetus for this letter—is: “How will we respond to this crisis?”
We call on leaders from all of the many faith traditions and ethical communities throughout the world to unite with scientists, activists, and concerned citizens as one voice in calling for humanity to recognize the crisis, our role in creating it, and our collective responsibility to immediately identify and enact solutions.
Scientific understandings and religious teachings alike teach us that we are connected as one human family and, further, we are connected to all life. Thus, our own survival is inextricably connected to the responsible stewardship of the Earth and all its creatures.
The many faith traditions that exist across the world, while differing in specific beliefs and expressions of their convictions, share many common values. One of those is a commitment to care for the disenfranchised. We know that the people with the least access to resources experience the greatest suffering as a result of a changing climate. Ecological insecurity reinforces inequality. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to advocate for those who are vulnerable and/or voiceless.
We clergy signing this letter pledge ourselves to express our love for humanity and for all life on Earth by advocating for an immediate change in our behaviors that continue to threaten the health of the planet, its people, and their varied cultures. We urge you to join us in the education and motivation of our fellow planetary citizens, and to help us unite and to take the steps urgently needed to save our home.
We must remember, in this work, to be kind to one another. It is easy to let the panic, the frustration, and the pain turn us against one another, to speak in harsh judgment, and to act in self-righteous anger, but we will only move forward together. It is not only important what we do but how we do it. We must acknowledge our shared needs and celebrate our differences in meeting them – but do so with a compassionate, honest, and committed regard for the Earth and its inhabitants. This is what brings us joy in the work and hope for the future.
The climate is changing, but there is also evidence of a changing climate in public opinion and resolve. People are ready to insist on and be a part of the necessary change. People are ready to explore what it takes to remake our societies in response to this challenge; to turn the world around.
Our religious communities should lead in asking a simple question: How can we be good ancestors? A powerful question. A spiritual practice. A call to action.
Join us in this work. The time is now.
I am encouraged by the work being done by those who have gathered and formed a new ministry at St. Paul’s focusing on one of the initiatives of St. Paul’s Cares, namely Care for Creation.
— Fr. GeorgeTags: From the Clergy, Hope for the Journey