Most Sundays I volunteer at my Catholic church here in LA as a small group leader with teens. A recent session was about science and faith, and I was telling my co-leader how excited I was to discuss environment/eco/climate change with the small group since I experience resistance all the time....particularly from conservative Christians on that topic. The words are hanging in the air, and I see a WashPost article on a study that showed half of Americans think the increasing severity of natural disasters is a sign of Biblical end times (77% of White Evangelicals and 74% of Black Protestants). Oh, where to begin...
I'm inspired that I'm nowhere near the first person to draw the connection between being a Christian and stewarding the environment (aka God's creation for all my non-religious peeps). Leading climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe from the Years of Living Dangerously first episode (watch for free!) draws from her evangelical Christianity when speaking with others about climate change and faith:
"When I look at the information we get from the planet, I look at it as God's creation, speaking to us. And in this case, there's no question that God's creation is telling us that it is running a fever."
Sit with that a second. That right there's the bomb diggity of explanations.
Until the Pope Francis encyclical on ecology comes out, you'll have to survive with my opinions! (Ok, well I'm basing it on off-the-cuff remarks he gave on the topic...but I digress...)
There's two reasons the mentality that is so prevalent in evangelical Christians is a huge problem....
1) it's a gigantic loophole and out for people who are causing climate change (Americans) to not deal with the issue (which I won't go into this blog post, but is important to note!), and
2) more importantly, it's antithetical to what being a Christian is all about, caring about the poor and social/environmental justice is at the heart of the Gospel....
And allowing people to believe "it'll be ok because Revelation will come true in your lifetime and since you're saved you'll go to heaven..." I'd like to talk to the pastor who's telling his flock that, and set him straight with some chaste but strong words. It's not just wrong, it's immoral. Climate change - THIS - is the moral crisis of our lifetime. We are called to be stewards of this planet and protectors of God's creation and we need to confront the fact that we are currently working against those two things.
Most importantly for we Christians (listen up!): we've learned with Hurricane Katrina, with Typhoon Haiyan, and any other major emergency to happen...it's the people who are most vulnerable that die and suffer the most. Those with resources find a way to survive and endure. Well as Christians, we are called to care for the vulnerable...'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
And now we Catholics have absolutely no excuse....in Pope Francis we have a direct advocate for "the poorest, the weakest, the least important"..."I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of good will: let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” (NY Times)
This is the moral crisis of our lifetime and right now we are failing....will we stand up for the injustice that climate change will wreak on those who cannot adapt? The irony is that we can turn it around if we only we would flex our God-given willpower to do the right thing.
Whether you believe in God or not, no one can deny that there's a lot of gray matter between our ears, and together we can do anything we put our hearts and minds to. Let it be reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and finding a solution to climate change.