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Progressive Voices of Faith: Climate Crisis

In the United States, much of the conversation around faith is dominated by conservative voices, voices that often argue for policies that restrict the rights of people in our communities. Through Progressive Voices of Faith, Pacific School of Religion (PSR) seeks to amplify the faith-based perspectives of progressives on politically and culturally relevant issues.  

This month we spoke with the PSR community about the climate crisis. What is our responsibility to each other and the planet and how does faith inform views on human-driven climate change? 

Almost 80% of those who responded to our survey said they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried about climate change and placed it among the top three to four most pressing issues facing the world today.  

However, many expressed hope that governments and individuals will be able to come together to combat the worst effects of climate change. Fifteen percent said we’re already moving in that direction while 57% said it’s still possible if we move quickly.  

Current student Dexter Richardson shared a common, mixed outlook saying, “I am somewhat worried about nations working together, especially with competing financial interests that may get in the way of countries addressing climate change. What makes me hopeful are the conversations that are continuing to go on about climate change and that hopefully will bring some change. I am also hopeful that new policies will be put in place that will incentivize nations to work towards addressing climate change. It is a complex problem.” 

A less optimistic view was shared by fellow student Michael Goos who said, “Carbon emissions are still rising; we have already passed several planetary boundaries; our ability to feed eight billion people currently depends on high energy consumption and endless growth with no scalable alternative in sight; and our ability to respond is hindered by interconnected problems including biodiversity loss, political instability, resource shortages, the risk of new pandemics, and entrenched political and economic systems that directly benefit from the destruction of the planet.” 

Alumnx Rev. Dr. Daniel Rodriguez Schlorff worried about, “Christians who believe ‘Heaven’ is their home and that they can destroy the planet all they want because it doesn’t matter.” 

Many stressed that people of faith are called to be stewards of God’s creation and that in failing to protect the planet we’re acting against their wishes. Student Cathy Miller said, “God created a world with enough for everyone…[but] humans have created an unjust economy where only a few people control the wealth of the universe.” 

Noting that the devastation created by a warming planet would directly affect food production and access to water, doubtlessly leading to conflict, alumnx Jeffery Spencer said, “If a lived Christian life was about feeding hungry people and ending war, as I’d been taught, then a lived Christian life would have to be about addressing the climate crisis.” 

Dr. Elizabeth Preston, another student, called for leadership on climate action from the pulpit: “Political leaders will not be providing effective leadership on the environment. They are too immersed in fighting each other. Perhaps religious leaders could step up the plate and do a better job of providing leadership on climate change and other ways in which humans continue to severely damage the environment of the Earth.” 

Though only half of respondents said their faith communities were currently addressing issues or organizing actions around climate change, many shared resources and information that helped drive their own ideas and actions which you can find below.  

 

Read more Progressive Voices of Change 

Creating a World Where All Can Thrive, Rights for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People, Religion and Politics, Reproductive Rights 

Books Recommended by the PSR Community 

Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World — Katherine Hayhoe 

Katherine Hayhoe’s Newsletter  

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis — edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson 

Eaarth — Bill McKibben 

Grounded: Finding God  in the World – A Spiritual Revolution — Diana Butler Bass 

Climate Church, Climate World — Jim Antal 

Braiding Sweetgrass — Robin Wall Kimmerer  

Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us Into the Sacred — Victoria Loorz 

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming — David Wallace-Wells 

The Gospel According to the Earth: Why the Good Book is a Green Book — Matthew Sleeth 

A Political Theory of Climate Change — Michael S. Northcott 

Foundations of Global Health & Human Rights — Lawrence O. Gostin and Benjamin Mason Meier 

Books by Sallie McFague & Thomas Berry 

 

Other Resources 

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home Pope Francis and the Catholic Church 

United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Annual Report 2022 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (ICCP) Sixth Assessment Report 2022

Journal Article: World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022 

Blessed Earth: Inspiring Faithful Stewardship of All Creation 

Green Party Home Page 

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