Creation is at a crossroads. It presents people of faith with the greatest opportunity we have ever had.
Creation is calling anyone who claims to be a religious leader to speak out from their pulpit and follow the Pope’s lead, rallying all who claim to be faithful to stand up, be heard, and make a difference.
Yesterday at the State Department a small coalition of religious climate leaders and I met with Deputy Special envoy for Climate Change Karen Florini and Amy Lillis, Religion and Global Affairs. Then we went to Mitch McConnell’s office in the Russell Senate Office Building and met with Daniel Cameron, Senator McConnell’s Counsel. We told them that people of faith throughout this country – a group that has largely been a “sleeping giant” – has awakened. Climate change is the greatest moral issue humanity has ever faced – and people are beginning to “get it.” It’s up to our generation to address the challenges created by seven generations of “progress.” And it’s way overdue for government leaders to realize what every religion teaches – that our responsibility is not only to ourselves, but it is to all who are alive today along with all who are yet to be born and all of creation as well.
They listened. They realized that this was not your “Fox News” understanding of religion.
And the climate negotiators were grateful. We left them knowing that we – all of us as people of faith – “have their back.” We urged them to go beyond the constraints of the irresponsible Congressional leaders who have been bought and sold by Exxon and the Koch brothers. We implored them to recognize that this is a time for vision and courage. Just as the question “What would we do if we were brave and faithful?” should guide each of our churches, it must also guide each of us as we engage the calling God has given us.
We can do this. Creation calls us – God calls us – to do this. In a rare moment – Washington’s cynicism has faded. You can see it on people’s faces. It’s up to all of us to keep hope alive by changing our priorities, deepening our discipline and engaging our politicians. We can do this.
Jim Antal is a denominational leader, activist and public theologian. He led the 360 churches of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ from 2006 to his retirement in 2018. An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, ...