This post comes from Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, the founder of the San Francisco-based Interfaith Power & Light, a national campaign with affiliates in 30 states. The group is organizing the Valentine’s Weekend Preach-In on Global Warming.
Valentine’s Day typically conjures up images of roses and sweets for our loved ones, a time when we recognize the many virtues of romantic love. Yet this coming Valentine’s Day, leaders of communities of faith throughout the United States will be bringing forth a different kind of love — a deep, abiding love for God’s creation and our neighbors now threatened by the calamity of global climate change.
Hundreds of congregations of many faiths have signed up for a National Preach-In on Global Warming on Valentine’s Day weekend. We are showing our love for the poor, disadvantaged and most at-risk peoples and creatures of the world on this traditional day of love.
Given today’s seemingly ever present news about nature’s peril, Job loss and the economic plight of so many people both here and around the world, it is time for faith communities to speak up and embrace the moral arguments compelling action on climate change. Climate legislation will create jobs, boost the economy and in the long run save money.
Why should people of faith — Christians, Jews, Muslim, Buddhists and all the other glorious religions of the world — care about what happens in Washington, D.C., on climate and energy policy?
Contrary to popular belief, scriptures and other religious documents make a compelling case on behalf of climate action. Here is a quote from one ancient rabbinic homily (Ecclesiastes Rabbah):
God says to Adam:
Before I made this world, I created many others. This one is very good. I am putting it in your hands. Take good care of it, because, if you mar it, there is no one to fix it after you…and besides you will be responsible for the loss of myriads of my creatures.
The New Testament includes this exchange:
Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
If you love your neighbor, you don’t pollute your neighbor’s air!
Each respective faith has also explored why religion supports climate change activism. For example, take these comments by Pope Benedict XVII in his World Day of Peace Message this past January:
It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view…We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries.
The Pope added, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”
Across the country, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims are organizing, making Valentine’s Day a wake-up call for Congress to pass effective and fair climate and energy legislation in 2010.
Whereas the specific teachings and dogma of each religion vary, they all share a common mandate: the moral obligation to protect and renew God’s creation. Our polluted and troubled world is crying for our help. The responsibility to act and act wisely is a calling people of faith can no longer ignore.
The moral responsibility to be good stewards of the earth parallels our human desires to provide a safe and healthy world for our children because of our love of family. It goes to the heart of being a spiritual and loving person. People of faith can no longer be silent or afraid to speak out.
The time to ask Congress to act decisively on federal climate legislation is now. Why don’t you send a valentine to your elected officials, letting them know how much you love God and love creation, and ask them to defend future generations, show their love for our precious earth – our island home?
This Valentine’s Day, let’s put love into action to protect our world. It’s the moral – and loving – thing to do.
photo: Kraetszche Photography