Jesus Would Demand A Green New Deal

Jesus Would Demand A Green New Deal April 22, 2020

Reverend Jonathan W. Barker was kind enough to send a copy of his book, Jesus Would Demand A Green New Deal: The Story Of Why One Christian Pastor Went On A 12 Day Fast For A Green New Deal, just in time for this 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

A few things about the book worth noting up front. First it is VERY brief, coming in at just under seventy pages, with wide margins. This is, in this time of pandemic complexity and short attention spans, highly commendable.

Almost anyone has a fighting chance of actually sitting down and reading it in one sitting.

It’s really a fascinating mix of genres. In a way, you might consider it a tract.

It wants to convert you.

It is a testimonial of a powerful conversion.

It communicates a sense of soteriological urgency. We have to do this now, in order to be saved.

It asks for a wake up, what Jonathan calls a “Jeremiah Moment.”

Reverend Barker narrates a few opening chapters that lead to his own Jeremiah Moment, culminating in his connection to the Sunrise Movement.

Personally, I hadn’t heard of the Sunrise Movement, so exposure to this organization was itself worth the time reading Jonathan’s book.

Between following the Sunrise Movement and reading The Green Collar Economy, Jonathan had his awakening: he would go on a 12 day fast, matching the number of years we have left (this was in 2018) to make significant enough change to head off the most devastating effects of climate change.

From chapter 8 onward, Reverend Barker offers a narrative of how the dramatic spiritual action of one person can radically center and reorient a community.

Such radical action allows space for radical imagination.

“A 12-day fast existed outside the realm of their imaginations.

And this is part of the reason why it is important to do it.

Because we have to get used to doing impossible things to create the world we want.

We have to turn toward new possibility, make good use of our imaginations, and wander beyond the borders of how it’s always been done.

Imagination is a powerful spiritual tool.

It gets us through hard times.

It opens a way where none existed.

And it’s contagious.”

Jonathan concludes his work with a set of potential actions to engage in:

  1. Vote for elected officials who support the Green New Deal.
  2. Dramatic action like a multi-day march to your state capitol.
  3. Open conversations with other Christians about the Green New Deal (like a presentation, or even a group discussion of his book)
  4. Connect with local climate groups, like your local Sunrise hub.
  5. Call your representatives and encourage them to support the Green New Deal. Pages 67-78 of his book include a template letter (see below).
  6. An additional appendix that is a reading list.
  7. And yet another appendix with ideas for green living.

Green New Deal Commitment

As a Christian member of Congress, I understand that Jesus would demand a Green New Deal.  I know this because at the center of Jesus’s teaching is the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This command to love our neighbors means we must do everything we can to protect our neighbors from the worst consequences of climate change–fires, hurricanes, floods, and droughts.  Loving our neighbors also means ensuring they have access to good jobs with a living wage.  The Green New Deal meets this standard of love for neighbor.

I commit “that I will use my office to champion a Green New Deal in any and all ways, including but not limited to: developing and supporting Green New Deal legislation and/or resolutions; building support amongst my colleagues for a Green New Deal; and publicly advocating for the necessity of a Green New Deal.”17[1]

Signed: ___________________________________________

Date: _____________________________________________

Office/Office Seeking: _______________________________


— (Since this book is so focused on the Green New Deal, I have reproduced the full text of the Green New Deal Resolution below… it’s worth a read)

H. RES. 109

Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.

February 7, 2019

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez (for herself, Mr. Hastings, Ms. Tlaib, Mr. Serrano, Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, Mr. Vargas, Mr. Espaillat, Mr. Lynch, Ms. Velázquez, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Castro of Texas, Ms. Clarke of New York, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Khanna, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Ms. Pressley, Mr. Welch, Mr. Engel, Mr. Neguse, Mr. Nadler, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Takano, Ms. Norton, Mr. Raskin, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Lowenthal, Ms. Matsui, Mr. Thompson of California, Mr. Levin of California, Ms. Pingree, Mr. Quigley, Mr. Huffman, Mrs. Watson Coleman, Mr. García of Illinois, Mr. Higgins of New York, Ms. Haaland, Ms. Meng, Mr. Carbajal, Mr. Cicilline, Mr. Cohen, Ms. Clark of Massachusetts, Ms. Judy Chu of California, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell, Mr. Moulton, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Sablan, Ms. Lee of California, Ms. Bonamici, Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Ms. Schakowsky, Ms. DeLauro, Mr. Levin of Michigan, Ms. McCollum, Mr. DeSaulnier, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Ms. Escobar, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Keating, Mr. DeFazio, Ms. Eshoo, Mrs. Trahan, Mr. Gomez, Mr. Kennedy, and Ms. Waters) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Science, Space, and Technology, Education and Labor, Transportation and Infrastructure, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, the Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Oversight and Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.

Whereas the October 2018 report entitled “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment report found that—

(1) human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century;

Whereas, because the United States has historically been responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, having emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014, and has a high technological capacity, the United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic transformation;

Whereas the United States is currently experiencing several related crises, with—

(1) life expectancy declining while basic needs, such as clean air, clean water, healthy food, and adequate health care, housing, transportation, and education, are inaccessible to a significant portion of the United States population;

Whereas climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices (referred to in this preamble as “systemic injustices”) by disproportionately affecting indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this preamble as “frontline and vulnerable communities”);

Whereas, climate change constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States—

(1) by impacting the economic, environmental, and social stability of countries and communities around the world; and

Whereas the Federal Government-led mobilizations during World War II and the New Deal created the greatest middle class that the United States has ever seen, but many members of frontline and vulnerable communities were excluded from many of the economic and societal benefits of those mobilizations; and

Whereas the House of Representatives recognizes that a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era is a historic opportunity—

(1) to create millions of good, high-wage jobs in the United States;

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1) it is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal—

(A) to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;


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