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Christians for a Greener World
Jeremy Faludi, 22 Feb 05

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A common stereotype in the US is that Christians are conservative, and people who care about the environment are atheist liberals, or at least non-Christian. In fact, however, there are thousands of Christians worldwide, even socially conservative ones, who are concerned about saving the environment. There are dozens of faith-based environmental activism groups worldwide. Even if there weren't, the impressive social leverage and organization of churches is not to be underestimated as a way to change the world, so it should receive more attention. (For good arguments to this effect, read Wendell Berry's essays.)

In the US, the larger regional/national organizations tend to be multi-faith (though most of their members are Christians, due to US demographics). Some, like National Religious Partnership for the Environment or Web of Creation, act as networks and clearinghouses of information, while others, like California Interfaith Power and Light are action-based and grassroots, helping members to perform energy audits of their churches and make efficiency improvements to their buildings, as well as educating.

There are many faith-specific organizations as well, such as the Evangelical Environmental Network (coiners of the phrase "What Would Jesus Drive?"), or the Lutheran Earthkeeping Network of the Synods; a good denomination-specific list can be found at Eco-Justice Ministries.

As the SF Chronicle writes, "The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has written a statement on climate change responding to Pope John Paul II's concerns that climate change will adversely affect people. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, has declared environmental degradation a sin. The Franciscan order of Roman Catholic priests has called for action on global warming and the Anglican Church is writing a response to climate change. The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million-member national Association of Evangelicals said, "There are significant and compelling theological reasons why environment should be a banner issue for the Christian right." The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, recently announced that the Church of England is embarking on a green revolution, rolling out eco-friendly policies. One thousand clergy and congregational leaders in 35 states recently signed a statement that expressed disagreement with the present position of our government on climate change."

Europe and the UK have their share of Christian "eco-justice" organizations, not just the US. I've been unable to find much in Latin America, however, so if you know of relevant groups, please leave comments with links to them.

Of course there are non-Christian faith-based environmental organizations as well, such as Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life in the US, and Buddhist Perception of Nature in Hong Kong (no URL, but info here). The purpose of this article was to dispel some stereotypes, but comments including links to green orgs of other faiths are encouraged also.

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Comments

Good to know, but it's too bad that the anti-green religious people are taking all the media space, it seems.


Posted by: Mikhail Capone on 22 Feb 05

There is a Christian left in America that the media doesn't recognize. I am not religious, but respect a liberal and reasonable interpration of religion. It's too bad the majority in this country who support the Bush Dynasty do not practice what they preach. And what is conservatism?--I think you wil find that so-called conservatives have very disparete opinions. For instance, you can be conservative and not elect to destroy the world as does the BUsh regime and it's followers. You can be conservative and have liberal, non-religious values. Nothing is black and white--no pun intended (as many right wing Christians seem to see people in black or white--just listen to the media), but the right wing would have you believe it very much is--they don't even preach monotheism--they preach dualism--good and 'evil' forces--black and white--'you're either with us or your against us'--thats a bloody shame. The world is full of many shades of green. And to listen to the rhatoric, to observe their budget cuts, their interests--the world is not one of them, the environment is against us--'the axis of evil' and must be smoked out!


Posted by: Joshua Bigley on 5 Mar 05



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