An Open Letter to the New Congress: Care for the Earth

An Open Letter to the New Congress: Care for the Earth January 13, 2015

My friend Cameron Trimble and I have a letter in The Hill today. You can read it here, or it is included below.

Please share it widely …

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We are two Christian leaders, one a 50-something from an Evangelical background and the other a 30-something from a Mainline Protestant background. We have both served as local pastors and now national leaders who consult with multi-denominational Christian leadership around the United States.

You have a majority in Congress now, and nearly all of you identify as Christians. In our travels, we see and meet a nationwide, new moral majority of Christians who care deeply about a broad range of moral issues. So we want you to know that we speak to you on behalf of millions of sincere and highly committed Catholic, Orthodox, Mainline Protestant, and Evangelical Christians when we offer you this urgent message:

Care for the earth because God loves the world and has entrusted humans with the responsibility of wise and careful stewardship. As Christians, we believe that is your belief, too. Which means it is time for us to repent. Human beings, made reckless by both ignorance and greed, have desecrated the only home we have – our planet — in tragic ways, and yet the worst could still be ahead of us if we don’t change our ways. Repenting is more than being sorry. It means being different: changing our values and changing our ways of thinking and behaving.

We say care for the earth because like you, we are not scientists, which means we are obligated to listen to scientists, 97 percent of whom agree that climate change is real, and a real threat to our children and grandchildren. It threatens their safe water supply, food security, even peace.

We say care for the earth because we are listening to our brothers and sisters around the world, especially those in Africa and Asia and Oceania, for whom the effects of global warming are and will be the most devastating. Not listening to them now will require the U.S. to respond to increases in famines and floods, costly both in dollars and in human life.

We say care for the earth because we understand that you plan to use your political muscle to harm the earth for votes and profit. For example, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised that approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline will be his first item of business, which the president has promised to veto, and which, no doubt, you will then try to overturn. President Cyril Scott, leader of the South Dakota Rosebud Sioux people, has called your support for Keystone XL pipeline an act of war against his people. Not caring for our earth is a hostile act against all people, especially our future generations. And from a business standpoint, this is short-term thinking. It makes far better long-term sense to focus on viable fuel alternatives – we are America – we can do that.

We say care for the earth because several of your leaders have promised to reduce the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, which some of your major donors wish to eliminate. You may think the voters support actions like these but we can assure you they do not. We see a just and generous Christianity majority that holds as one of its core commitments a commitment to live out our faith in love for the planet: Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

We know, as Christians, you do not wish to see millions of young people – and older people, too – turning away from Christian faith. But that is exactly what is happening. Not because they think religious faith is holy and moral and they want to be unholy and immoral, but for the opposite reason. They think religion is too often dirty, supporting dirty energy and a dirty economy along with other dirty things like prejudice, inequality, and extremism.

As your fellow Christians, we can promise that if you ignore us now, please be assured, wherever you turn, you will hear us calling and voting for you to do what is right; do what is good; do what is God’s will: care for the earth.

When we look back on previous generations of Christians and leaders and ask, “Did they stand up against slavery? Did they stand up for civil rights?” Future generations will ask of your legacy, “Did they stand up for the earth?”

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  • Y. A. Warren

    I hope that your fellow “Christians” will be as brave as was Jesus in standing up to despotic, hypocritical earthly power.