Paris climate withdrawal violates Christian faith

Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher and other Mass clergy have issued a statement calling President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord a violation of “the values and vision that are basic to Christian faith” and “morally wrong.”

SPRINGFIELD – The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, who serves as missioner for creation care for the diocese and for the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ, as well as the Rev. Jim Antal, president of the Massachusetts Conference, UCC, and conference minister, have issued a statement calling President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord a violation of “the values and vision that are basic to Christian faith” as well as “morally wrong.”

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Climate Accord violates the values and vision that are basic to Christian faith,” the statement reads.

“As followers of Jesus, we are committed to God’s mission of reconciling people with each other and with the whole of creation.”

In the statement, which references scripture passages that it says teach “we are entrusted with loving the Earth as God loves it,” the three say they “applaud the Parliament of the World’s Religions strong condemnation of the President’s decision.”

“We concur that this decision is scientifically, economically, medically, politically and morally wrong,” the statement says.

“With heartache we recognize the devastating toll of suffering that will be exacted by this administration’s refusal to address the climate crisis. We are appalled by the administration’s unwillingness to join with other nations in protecting and stabilizing the atmosphere upon which our species – and so many other forms of life – depend.”

The statement frames the decision as on a “death-dealing tragjectory,” but, noting that many mayors of American cities remain committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission in the wake of the decision, says “many people and institutions are taking creative steps locally, regionally, and nationally to build a more just and sustainable future.”

“This historic moment provides Christian communities with a powerful opportunity to bear witness to the sacredness of God’s creation and the urgent call to preserve it. This is our chance to be the church,” the statement reads.

It notes its congregations’ mission commitments to the earth and says “the voice of our still-speaking God resounds above the jeers and cheers in response to Trump’s decision.”

“God is calling our congregations and clergy to rise to the occasion and to become bold witnesses to the creative power of God,” the statement says.

Bullitt-Jonas, who has focused on environmental spirituality since 2014, has spoken often on the need for individuals, serious “about wanting to preserve a habitable world,” and end dependence on fossil fuels, “to work for it – to organize, lobby, vote, pray, invent, create, protest, and push – to do it together and do it fast.”

She has called climate change “an existential crisis, for it threatens everything we love: the health and safety of our children, the well-being of the poor and vulnerable, the ongoing existence of our brother and sister species, even the stability and ongoing existence of human civilization.”

The Paris Agreement, signed by nearly 200 nations, was intended to curb greenhouse gas emissions whose excess traps too much heat in Earth’s atmosphere, by about half of what is needed to stop the consequences of human induced climate change. 
According to government statistics, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, from the burning of such fuels as gas and coal for heat, transportation and electricity, have increased by seven percent since 1990.

The statement from the three ministers calls upon “our congregations and clergy to embrace this moment of opportunity in three ways.”

These are as quoted below from the statement:

* Accept the mantle of moral leadership

Now is the time for clergy to speak from their pulpits about the moral obligation of our generation to protect God’s creation. Let the world know that whatever the current American administration may say or do, the Jesus movement will not back away from God’s call to protect our common home. 

* Incarnate change

Now is the time for congregations and for every person of faith to set a moral example through our own words and actions. As individuals and as communities, we can commit to making decisions of integrity in our energy choices, and to holding our leaders accountable to do the same. 

* Proclaim truth in the public square

Now is the time for communities of faith to be bold and courageous in proclaiming truth in the public square. It is now abundantly clear that the Federal Government will not address the greatest moral challenge that the world has ever faced. It is up to us.

Let us commit to resist all expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and demand new sources of renewable energy that are accessible to all communities. As people of faith, we can and we must change America’s understanding of the story that our generation is writing. We must begin a new story – a story that is not dependent on fossil fuel or on wealth for the few and misery for the many. 
In the streets, at the State House, with our phones and emails, by committing our time, financial resources and prayers – it is up to us – we the people – to bend the moral arc of justice. And we will. 

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