Honoring God's creation through congregational education and action

Pennsylvania Interfaith Climate Change Campaign, 2/16/2005

February 11, 2005
Media contacts: Robin Hoy, 215-860-7081, ecorobinhood@comcast.net
Joy Bergey, 215-836-5978, joybergey@earthlink.net

Pennsylvania Religious Leaders Tell President, Congress:

The Only Mandate that Matters is God's

Statement Signed by over 1,000 Leaders Nationwide
Reflects Consensus that Protecting Gods Creation is a Moral Issue, Denounces Clear Skies Initiative as Moral Violation and Calls for Action on Climate Change

PHILADELPHIA With the Kyoto Protocol set to go into effect without U.S. support on the same day the Clear Skies Initiative is scheduled for markup in Congress next week, 125 Pennsylvania religious leaders are joining colleagues nationwide to tell the Bush administration and members of Congress that the only mandate that matters is Gods.

In a statement released today, reverends, nuns, and rabbis expressed great dismay and alarm at the administrations erosion of protection for Gods creation, specifically the Clear Skies initiative, which religious leaders believe will actually increase dangerous pollutants, and the administrations and Congressional leaders refusal to take action on climate change and their plans to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Addressing the administrations claims to a mandate to push through their agenda, the statement says, There was no mandate, no majority, or no values message in this past election for the President or the Congress to roll back and oppose programs that care for Gods Creation.

While the majority of religious Americans voted for Bush, our vote wasnt a green light to pollute the air, accelerate species extinction and turn our backs on our responsibility to stop global warming, said the Rev. Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Public Advocacy, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, located in Harrisburg. We answer to a higher power, and want to remind all religious people, Republicans, Democrats, and the White House, of our covenant with God to care for Creation.

The letter, officially released on Friday, February 11, will be delivered to Senators Santorums and Specters district offices on Feb. 15, prior to a national Day of Prayer and call-in day for congregants, pastors and rabbis to contact their senators and the White House to remind them of our moral obligation to protect Creation. An education piece about the religious mandate will be sent to 250,000 clergy and congregational leaders and there will also be a prominent issue advertisement concerning climate change placed in Roll Call and the Faithful America network.

This statement comes at the heels of a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showing a strong support on environmental protection among people of faith. The poll also found that in setting national priorities, 53 percent place the environment above other issues including abortion (46 percent) and same-sex marriage (33 percent).

The Bible describes environmental disasters wrought by a Pharaoh who ignored the needs of his people and the warnings of his advisers, said Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. Rivers so polluted that the water was undrinkable and other ecological plagues stemmed from Pharaohs disregard. Pharaoh was wrong. Wealth and power do not trump the will of God. The commands of Heaven to protect the earth and human life must be obeyed — not the "mandate" of a Pharaoh. Or a president.

Several passages in the Bible support this mandate: the Psalms outlines a paramount obligation to defend the poor and the orphan (Ps 82:3). Genesis commands us to till and tend the garden (Gen 2:15) and states we have an obligation, in prudence and precaution, to sustain the future well-being of all life on Earth, Gods covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature for perpetual generations. (Gen 9:12).

Contact Info:

Rabbi Arthur Waskow
(215) 844-8494
The Shalom Center
Philadelphia, PA 19119

The Rev. Sandra L. Strau
Pa. Council of Churche
Harrisburg, PA 17109
(717) 545-4761
(717) 350-0165 Cell

About the Pennsylvania Interfaith Climate Change Campaign

The Pennsylvania Interfaith Climate Change Campaign, in existence since 1999, works with congregations and people of faith to educate them about global warming and encourage their involvement in addressing this growing problem. Last year the Campaign released What Should the Governor Drive?, a report and moral call to Gov. Rendell to improve fuel economy among the Commonwealths vehicle fleet.

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