Open thread: faith groups and climate politics


in Politics, Science, The environment

There are several reasons to be interested in the climate politics of faith groups. Some progressive ones like the United Church of Canada and the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have taken meaningful action by divesting. The pope’s Laudato Si encyclical may have an impact on billions around the world.

Faith groups becoming champions of a stable climate could have the potential to shift the character of the climate change debate, which is presently mostly about progressives calling for strong action (usually coupled with a social justice and redistribution agenda) and conservatives either denying that there is a problem or finding a justification to take no action. If the arguments of climate scientists can be legitimized by faith communities which conservatives care about, we might start to see progress toward a pan-ideological consensus on climate action.

One story today that reminded me of this: Why Four Christian Activists Risked Arrest to Shut Down an oil Pipeline

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

. December 24, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Power in the Catholic church is shifting south and exposing divisions

The church is pondering whether to ordain women and married men

That shift has been exacerbated by the growing threat posed by climate change. The pope has long argued that care for the environment is inseparable from the fight against global inequality. He called the synod, the first to be dedicated to a single region, partly because of the Amazon’s crucial role as a buffer against climate change. Its basin contains 40% of Earth’s rainforests and serves as a carbon sink, mitigating warming. But rising deforestation, on the pretext of development, threatens the sustainability of the ecosystem. The insouciance of regional governments, especially Brazil’s, puts them on a collision course with the church.

. May 18, 2020 at 7:50 pm

The row illustrates the two strains in the American church: one that emphasises personal morality, chiefly characterised by opposition to gay marriage and abortion, and another, promoted by Pope Francis, that focuses on issues of social justice, like the plight of immigrants. The strength of both traditions in America means that Catholics minded to follow church teaching could vote for either party.

. July 2, 2020 at 12:06 am

Anna Jane Joyner is a climate activist who concentrates on what she calls “crafting stories and strategies that inspire new audiences to take action on climate change.” She makes special effort to engage evangelical Christians, including her father, who is a prominent pastor. She was featured in the Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously,” and is the co-host of the podcast “No Place Like Home” with Mary Anne Hitt, an activist from the Sierra Club.

. July 2, 2020 at 12:06 am

“I am a preacher’s daughter, and my dad is a climate-denying megachurch pastor. To me, it seems most white evangelicals are lost in a false nostalgia and brainwashed by the cult of Trump and Fox News. They’re driven by an ideological identity and a mentality of my team vs. yours, not science, or even compassion, and stuck in the culture wars of the nineteen-eighties and nineties. I like to remind people that there’s a lot more to Christianity than what white evangelicals have to say. There’s still a lot of hope among young people who were raised in that space, and even those who still identify with it, who are far more likely to embrace science and social justice. And there are millions of progressive Christians who care about the climate crisis and are inspired by Jesus’ teachings and other tenets of Christianity to act. But I fear that many, if not most, older white evangelicals may be lost—not that I won’t still keep trying.”

. July 3, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Georgetown’s Jesuit values also became an important part of GUFF’s message urging the university to divest from fossil fuels. GUFF’s most recent proposal, which culminated in the decision of full divestment, was submitted to CISR on Jan. 17, 2019, and begins with the words of Pope Francis: “We received this world as an inheritance from past generations, but also as a loan from future generations, to whom we will have to return it!”

Invoking Jesuit values throughout the campaign was a natural way to ensure that the university’s actions were consistent with its beliefs, according to GUFF co-founder Patricia Cipollitti (SFS ’15).

“You see all these banners of cura personalis, of being women and men for others,” Cipollitti said. “How are we actually going to be women and men for others if we’re actively contributing to the destruction of livelihoods and the condition of possibility of our lives, which is this planet?”

. November 8, 2020 at 10:49 pm

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si is arguably the most profound religious environmental treatise ever authored and by taking a formal position for Catholicism has broadened the tent of who might be considered an environmentalist. It has illuminated a moral path of taking environmental action and is a major advancement in casting off the perceived cloak of indifference towards the environment by the world’s religions. Laudato Si is, of course, not the first faith-based environmental initiative, and by no means the one with the most measurable impact, but unlike other initiatives before and since, it is a document that catalyzed a movement.

. November 13, 2020 at 8:59 pm
. April 28, 2021 at 9:55 pm

‘Within minutes I was weeping’: the US pastor using scripture to mobilize climate action

Milan June 2, 2021 at 9:36 pm

Review of US bishops’ investment guidelines is underway

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is reviewing its socially responsible investment guidelines, a process that could result in the first update in nearly 20 years. The current document, which informs the investment decisions of many dioceses, colleges and church organizations, offers little direction about fossil fuel divestment.

The conference confirmed to EarthBeat in mid-May that the review is underway. Among those involved is the budget and finance committee, led by Bishop Gregory Parkes of St. Petersburg, Florida, bishops’ conference treasurer. Before entering the priesthood, Parkes worked in the banking industry in Tampa and holds a degree in finance.

A source familiar with the conference’s process said it remains in progress and no deadline has been set, but that updated guidelines, first issued in 1991 and updated in 2003, could be presented at the bishops’ November assembly.

Milan June 2, 2021 at 9:36 pm

Inside the campaign to divest the Catholic Church from fossil fuels

by Brian Roewe

ROME — In the days of the Renaissance, the Catholic Church was near the peak of its power. The combination of political influence and vast wealth positioned the Vatican in the 15th and 16th centuries as one of the prominent patrons of the arts during one of the most culturally rich periods in human history. As financier, the church paved the way for many of the masterpieces still found all around Rome, from the works of Raphael, to Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers, to Michelangelo’s giant frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

. July 3, 2021 at 6:03 pm

For Some Evangelical Christians, Climate Action is a God-given Mandate

. September 8, 2021 at 5:03 pm

Christian leaders unite to issue stark warning over climate crisis | Religion | The Guardian

. September 15, 2021 at 11:53 am

The mission of Laudato Si’ Movement:

“To inspire and mobilize the Catholic community to care for our common home and achieve climate and ecological justice.”

. October 26, 2021 at 8:15 pm

Faith institutions announce largest-ever divestment from fossil fuels ahead of COP26

. February 12, 2022 at 2:53 pm
. March 30, 2022 at 2:41 am

We need more than an apology from the Pope — scrap the Doctrine of Discovery | CBC News

. April 8, 2022 at 12:09 am

How To Convince Conservative Christians That Global Warming Is Real

Millions of Americans are evangelical Christians. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is persuading them that our planet is in peril.

. July 1, 2022 at 3:32 pm

Catholic Theological Society of America resolves to divest from fossil fuels

. January 31, 2023 at 1:56 pm

As Presbyterians, we are committed to education and are thus committed to the education of our denomination around fossil fuels, faith, and divestment. We offer this four-hour curriculum as a resource to your congregation.

The Fossil Free PCUSA 2015 Climate Justice Curriculum will lead your congregation through the Biblical basis for caring for creation, the basics of climate change, what we can do as individuals and congregations, and the role of our denomination in combatting climate change with a focus on divesting from fossil fuels. As Christians we have a spiritual and moral obligation to care for all of God’s creation – plants, animals, and humans – and the land, water and air on which all life depends. Extracting fossil fuels is devastating our land, water and air and burning fossil fuels is the major culprit in creating climate change. If we are to slow the effects of climate change, the most effective way is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and minimize burning them. There are many ways this can be done individually and as a society. Divestment – selling investments in fossil fuel companies – is one way to put pressure on those companies to develop newer and cleaner technologies for producing energy.

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