Here we have collected several Faith Statements on Environmental Responsibility. The list is not comprehensive, but is meant to represent some of the common faith traditions in our state. If you’d like to tell us about a faith statement on the environment that’s not included here, send an email to email@example.com.
- Baptist (American)
- Lutheran (ELCA)
- Presbyterian (US)
- United Church of Christ
- United Methodist (US)
The Humane Society has also gathered religious statements on caring for Creation, with an emphasis on animals.
Global warming affects hunger, access to clean water, environmental stewardship, health and peace. Addressing global warming will make it more possible for all to live the life of possibility that God intends. Therefore, based on our faith in the Creator God who makes us a part of a unified creation, the General Board of the American Baptist Churches USA, calls on national boards, regions, American Baptist institutions, congregations and individuals to:
- Join in ways to build a culture that can live in harmony with God’s creation
- Join in global, local and personal efforts to safeguard the world’s atmospheric integrity and quality
- Address the causes and reverse the consequences of global warming
The study of ecology has become a religious, social and political concern because every area of life is affected by careless use of our environment. The creation is in crisis. We believe that ecology and justice, stewardship of creation and redemption are interdependent. Our task is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ until the coming of the Kingdom on Earth. All God’s people must be guided by the balance of reverence, the acknowledgement of our interdependence, the integrity of divine wholeness and the need for empowerment by the Holy Spirit to image God by our dominion over creation (Mark 10:43-45). If we image God we will reflect in our dominion the love and the care that God has for the whole creation, “for God so loved the world…”(John 3:16, Romans 8:21-22, Matthew 5:43-48). Jesus told us to let your light so shine that others may see the good things you do and praise God (Matthew 5:16). …
The Creator-Redeemer seeks the renewal of the creation and calls the people of God to participate in saving acts of renewal. We are called to cooperate with God in the transformation of a fallen world that has not fulfilled its divinely given potential for beauty, peace, health, harmony, justice and joy (Isa. 11:6-9, Micah 4:3-4, Eph. 2:10, Rev. 21:1-5). Our task is nothing less than to join God in preserving, renewing and fulfilling the creation. It is to relate to nature in ways that sustain life on the planet, provide for the essential material and physical needs of all humankind, and increase justice and well-being for all life in a peaceful world.
“When we respect the environment, then nature will be good to us. When our hearts are good, then the sky will be good to us. The trees are like our mother and father, they feed us, nourish us, and provide us with everything; the fruit, leaves, the branches, the trunk. They give us food and satisfy many of our needs. So we spread the Dharma (truth) of protecting ourselves and protecting our environment, which is the Dharma of the Buddha. When we accept that we are part of a great human family—that every being has the nature of Buddha—then we will sit, talk, make peace. I pray that this realization will spread throughout our troubled world and bring humankind and the earth to its fullest flowering. I pray that all of us will realize peace in this lifetime and save all beings from suffering.” -Maha Ghosananda (http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=66)
At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both “the human environment” and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God’s creation and our responsibility to those who come after us…
(From Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2001)
“At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope. Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s Resurrection. For as I said earlier, Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.” -Pope Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi, Easter 2009
Pope Francis issued an encyclical on the environment and earth care in June 2015. Read it HERE.
Check out the discussion guide produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops HERE.
And check out this readers guide published by the National Catholic Reporter HERE.
Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says: “I pervade the Universe. All objects in the Universe rest on me as pearls on the thread of a garland.”
The Upanishads narrate that after creating the Universe, the Creator entered into each and every object to help them maintain their interrelationship. Therefore to contribute toward the maintenance of this interrelationship becomes worship of God. Hindus believe that there is soul in all plants and animals. One has to do penance even for killing plants and animals for food. This daily penance is called visva deva. Visva deva is nothing but an offering of prepared food to the Creator, asking His pardon.
When humanity develops consciousness of the presence of God and His continuous showering of blessings on the universe, it develops deep love for Him. To enjoy this nectar of love, God created people. Only people have a time-space conception. Therefore, only humanity can see God, pervading time-space, conserving the ecological balance which is the greatest boon bestowed on the universe by God. Though humans cannot contribute toward the conservation in the same way as other animals do, they can help all lives and other objects in the universe to play their roles effectively by persuading God through prayers of love to grant them the required energy and directions. Yavat bhumandalam datte samrigavana karnanam, tavat tisthati medhinyam santatih putra pautriki: “so long as the Earth preserves her forests and wildlife, man’s progeny will continue to exist.” This is the Hindu approach toward the conservation of ecology. -Swami Vibudhesha Teertha
For the Muslim, mankind’s role on earth is that of a Khalifah – vicegerent or trustee of Allah. We are Allah’s stewards and agents on Earth. We are not masters of this Earth; it does not belong to us to do what we wish. It belongs to Allah and He has entrusted us with its safekeeping. Our function as vicegerents, Khalifahs of Allah, is only to oversee the trust. The khalifah is answerable for his/her actions, for the way in which he/she uses or abuses the trust of Allah.
The central concept of Islam is Tawhid – the Unity of Allah. Allah is Unity and His Unity is also reflected in the unity of mankind, and the unity of man and nature. His trustees are responsible for maintaining the unity of His creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment. Unity cannot be had by discord, by setting one need against another; it is maintained by balance and harmony.
Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, secretary general of the Muslim World League.
Further Information: http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=132
From the International Climate Change Symposium, here is the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change: http://islamicclimatedeclaration.org/islamic-declaration-on-global-climate-change/
For Jews, the environmental crisis is a religious challenge. As heirs to a tradition of stewardship that goes back to Genesis and that teaches us to be partners in the ongoing work of Creation, we cannot accept the escalating destruction of our environment and its effect on human health and livelihood. Where we are despoiling our air, land, and water, it is our sacred duty as Jews to acknowledge our God-given responsibility and take action to alleviate environmental degradation and the pain and suffering that it causes. We must reaffirm and bequeath the tradition we have inherited which calls upon us to safeguard humanity’s home.
Our agenda is already overflowing. Israel’s safety, the resettlement of Soviet Jewry, anti-Semitism, the welfare of our people in many nations, the continuing problems of poverty, unemployment, hunger, health care and education, as well as assimilation and intermarriage — all these and more have engaged us and must engage us still.
But the ecological crisis hovers over all Jewish concerns, for the threat is global, advancing, and ultimately jeopardizes ecological balance and the quality of life. It is imperative, then, that environmental issues also become an immediate, ongoing and pressing concern for our community.
Energy Conservation is an Ancient Commandment, by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, COEJL
Rav Zutra, in the Talmud (Shabbat 67b), mandates fuel efficiency, saying that those who burn more fuel than necessary violate the law of not wasting (bal tashchit). And a 13th century German pietistic text, Sefer HaChinuch (529), suggests that: “Tzadikim (righteous) people of good deeds…do not waste in this world even a mustard seed. They become sorrowful with every wasteful and destructive act that they see, and if they can they use all their strength to save everything possible from destruction. But the rasha’im (wicked) are not thus; they are like demons. They rejoice in the destruction of the world, just as they destroy themselves.”
Further Information: http://coejl.org/
Humans, in service to God, have special roles on behalf of the whole of creation. Made in the image of God, we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth. God’s command to have dominion and subdue the earth is not a license to dominate and exploit. Human dominion (Gen 1:28; Ps 8), a special responsibility, should reflect God’s way of ruling as a shepherd king who takes the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), wearing a crown of thorns.
We are called to live according to God’s wisdom in creation (Prov 8), which brings together God’s truth and goodness. Wisdom, God’s way of governing creation, is discerned in every culture and era in various ways. In our time, science and technology can help us to discover how to live according to God’s creative wisdom.
Sin and captivity, manifest in threats to the environment, are not the last word. God addresses our predicament with gifts of “forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation” (Luther, Small Catechism). By the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God frees us from our sin and captivity, and empowers us to be loving servants to creation.
The church has powerful reason for engagement in restoring God’s creation:
- God’s work in creation is too wonderful, too ancient, too beautiful, too good to be desecrated.
- Restoring creation is God’s own work in our time, in which God comes both to judge and to restore.
- The Creator-Redeemer calls faithful people to become engaged with God in keeping and healing the creation, human and non-human.
- Human life and well-being depend upon the flourishing of other life and the integrity of the life-supporting processes that God has ordained.
- The love of neighbor, particularly “the least” of Christ’s brothers and sisters, requires action to stop the poisoning, the erosion, the wastefulness that are causing suffering and death.
- The future of our children and their children and all who come after is at stake.
- In this critical time of transition to a new era, God’s new doing may be discerned as a call to earth-keeping, to justice and to community.
Environmental Policy (1990) webpage
Integrity, as a synonym for truthfulness, wholeness, and single-handed pursuit of the Good, therefore provides a comprehensive understanding of how Friends traditionally have engaged the secular powers that alienate and destroy rather than unify and heal. In this approach, our commitments to peace, equality, justice, and Earthcare are understood as different facets of the same spiritual concern.
Some examples of the integration of Friends’ testimonies include:
Peace Work and Earthcare
- The manufacture, testing, and use of weapons is destructive to ecosystems and depletes nonrenewable resources. War disrupts communities, which are typically most knowledgeable about local environments and best equipped to practice stewardship.
Equality and Earthcare
- Inequality, (racial, gender, ethnic, sexual orientation) deprives people of basic needs as well as rights, which makes it difficult for them to be mindful of the needs and rights of other species and future generations. Competition for scarce, nonrenewable resources is exacerbated by overconsumption.
Justice and Earthcare
- Ecosystems can be healthy only when society is just and healthy. Ways can and must be found to provide for both the needs of people and protection of Earth’s precious resources, for the benefit of all. Focus turns to the common interests of resource users, environmentalists, and endangered species.
“Ecological Integrity and Light Within” (webpage)
Further information: http://www.quakerearthcare.org/
United Church of Christ
God’s Gift and Call To Us
As people of faith, we look to the scriptures for guidance for the choices we make in our lives. Genesis 1 says that when God created the heavens and the earth, God saw that everything was “very good.” We learn in Genesis 2 that as humankind has the freedom to make moral choices, and that each of us lives with the responsibility for our personal actions or inactions. With the freedom of God’s gift, the prophet Micah guides us towards moral and responsible lifestyle choices: we are to do justice, love kindness and mercy, and walk humbly with our God [Mic.6:6-8].
Our Response To God
We understand scriptures compel us to act on our faith grounded in wonder, reverence, love, and respect for all of God’s creation. But clearly, God’s creation is groaning under the burden of injustice, greed, and arrogance. Our choices have resulted in vanishing and degraded farmland, air unfit to breathe and water unfit to drink, unsustainable energy processes and consumption, and the perilous immediate and long-term worldwide consequences of global warming and climate change. Poor communities and communities of color will disproportionately suffer the unjust consequences of our choices. And now, we realize more every day that our choices threaten the voiceless natural systems that sustain all of life itself.
Our Choices Now
When confronted with environmental responsibility, people of faith now face an additional choice: to live in despair or to live with hope. We in the United Church of Christ are called to live with hope. We are called to go beyond lifestyle adjustment. We are called to spiritual and lifestyle transformation based on justice and reverence for all of God’s creatures and creation. We are called by Jesus to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. With God’s grace, we invite individuals to transform their lives and their communities to become hopeful, restorative, and just.
We invite you to tell others of your concern and to work in your congregation for environmental justice. We invite you to sign up to attend a workshop or retreat that will expand your awareness and deepen your faith.
United Methodist (US)
God’s creation is in crisis. We, the Bishops of The United Methodist Church, cannot remain silent while God’s people and God’s planet suffer. This beautiful natural world is a loving gift from God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen. God has entrusted its care to all of us, but we have turned our backs on God and on our responsibilities. Our neglect, selfishness, and pride have fostered:
- pandemic poverty and disease
- environmental degradation
- the proliferation of weapons and violence
Despite these interconnected threats to life and hope, God’s creative work continues. Despite the ways we all contribute to these problems, God still invites each one of us to participate in the work of renewal. We must begin the work of renewing creation by being renewed in our own hearts and minds. We cannot help the world until we change our way of being in it.
[L]et us practice social and environmental holiness. We believe personal holiness and social holiness must never be separated. John Wesley preached: “The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social. No holiness but social holiness.” Through social holiness we make ourselves channels of God’s blessing in the world. Because God’s blessing, care, and promise of renewal extend to all of creation, we can speak today of “environmental holiness” as well. We practice social and environmental holiness by caring for God’s people and God’s planet and by challenging those whose policies and practices neglect the poor, exploit the weak, hasten global warming, and produce more weapons.