Following last week’s COP26 in Glasgow the issue of climate change is still very much on my mind. And this Sunday I turn to the religious for leadership and guidance on this very serious and urgent challenge facing humanity.
There is a long history of religious thinking and attention to the role of humans as stewards of the earth and the environment. These theological underpinnings stem from the idea that God created earth and humans, therefore, God’s children have a responsibility to care for his creations. This perspective is shared across a number of faiths.
In June 2015, Pope Francis issued an encyclical urging Catholics and all people on earth to focus on a broad range of issues and problems in the environment including pollution, climate change, biodiversity and global inequality of ecological systems.In February 2006, a group of 86 evangelical leaders, under the auspices of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, challenged the Bush administration on global warming. Other religious groups and leaders in the USA, and other countries, have taken positions as well.
A robust policy strategy – regarding support in the religious community – should pay careful attention to the effects of both climate change and climate policy on the poor in both developing nations and the developed world itself. Understanding the cultural dimensions of climate change requires understanding its religious aspects. Insofar as climate change is entangled with humans, it is also entangled with all the ways in which religion attends human ways of being.
Religious leaders should continue to call for bold action in defense of God’s creation.Pope Francis, who attended the Earth Day summit, encouraged the leaders of the world’s largest economies to “take charge of the care of nature, of this gift that we have received and that we have to heal, guard, and carry forward.” These words are increasingly significant because of the challenge the world faces. As Pope Francis said, “We need to keep moving forward and we know that one doesn’t come out of a crisis the same way one entered. We come out either better or worse. Our concern is to see that the environment is cleaner, purer, and preserved. We must take care of nature so that it takes care of us.”Meeting the scale and scope of the climate crisis will require all religious leaders and activists, along with political leaders of all faiths and no faith, to unite around climate justice priorities.
The moral case to address the climate crisis is resounding in faith communities around the world. It’s up to political leaders to make the investments and changes necessary to safeguard and secure humanity’s survival and protect God’s creation.