Faith

FAITH

For many people the world over, climate change presents an existential crisis. Some fall back on faith to ground them in the face of climate change’s magnitude, even to guide them through it. For others, faith precludes an acceptance of climate change’s harsh realities. The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology has an incredible archive of articles on religion and climate change from 2009 to the present.

IS THERE A CONNECTION IN THIS COUNTRY BETWEEN RELIGION AND POLITICS?

In recent years, a prominent narrative has positioned religiosity as antithetical to environmentalism and climate denialism has flourished in right-wing, white Christian communities. It has been effective -- according to a report in 2022, only 32% of white evangelical Protestants agree that the US is warming due to human activity compared with 66% of religiously unaffiliated adults. Politically prominent and powerful Christian interest groups, such as Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, have launched campaigns denouncing environmental movements. Despite the rhetoric from these groups, some researchers have argued that, it is the confluence of these religious movements with conservative American politics, which has determined their stance on climate change. In other words, for these folks, their political identity has affected their religious convictions as a driver of their environmental convictions. Indeed, there is support in some surveys for that opinion: for example, early in 2023, another Pew poll surveyed Catholics only to discover that 82% of Catholic Democrats take climate change extremely seriously whereas only 25% of Republican Catholics feel the same way. Another, in 2022, explored the conflict Christians feel as they try to sort out their sense of responsibility for the Earth with their skepticism about climate change.

WHAT HAVE THE POPES SAID ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?

Many people of Christian faiths have pushed back on the toxic narrative of denialism. Certainly recent popes have. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke strongly urging international climate action. In 2020, Pope Francis, gave a TED talk  on the moral imperative to act on climate change. Support for his call to action has been lukewarm at best. As the leader of 1.4 billion Catholics globally with one in four people in the U.S. identifying as Catholic, Pope Francis has recently pondered why getting people to care is so harder that he thought.

HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE RELATE TO CHRISTIANITY

In this country, perhaps our most profound spokesperson to successfully marry faith with a deep understanding of climate change is Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. She is an evangelical Christian and leading climate scientist who has garnered substantial attention for her ability to bridge the political divide, clearly explaining the way that her faith has driven her work. Climate change, she argues, is a blatantly Christian cause because of the ways it will disproportionately affect the poor and cause the extinction of so many of God’s creatures.

HOW DOES FAITH ALIGN WITH ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP?

Aligning faith with environmental stewardship is key for many in driving environmental action. The International Islamic Climate Change Symposium drafted an Islamic Declaration on Climate Change in 2015. The declaration makes clear the threat climate change poses to one of Islam’s pillars: the Hajj. A group of Jewish leaders published a Rabbinic Statement on the Climate Crisis in January 2020. In fact, statements on climate change have been released from a multitude of international and interfaith communities, including Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. In early 2021, The Mind and Life Institute moderated a fascinating conversation between the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and leading scientists.

WHAT RELATIONSHIP DO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE HAVE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE?

For many indigenous communities, faith is a thread which runs through a resilient history and a pathway toward a sustainable future. The legacy of colonialism is vivid both in modern dynamics of faith and within the dynamics of the climate crisis. The struggle of Native communities to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline, is just one explicit example of this intersection. The rallying cry ‘Defend the Sacred’ was prominent in resistance to the pipeline and summarized a key legal argument that the pipeline violated the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s right to religious freedom. The integrity of Lake Oahe and surrounding areas, a site sacred to the tribes, would have been gravely threatened by the pipeline. Respect of indigenous spirituality and epistemologies, long subjected to colonialist erasure, is a key to combatting climate change and pursuing climate justice.   As of May 3, 2021, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would keep the pipeline operational while preparing a court-ordered environmental impact study. It has, as of 6/1/2023, not yet been released. In the meantime, Harvard U reports that the pipeline still lacks a key permit from the Corps to cross under Lake Oahe in south Dakota.

The idea that religion and climate science are inherently opposing forces is myopic and harmful. On the contrary, faith is unquestionably sustaining and sustainable.

This section explores all the ways in which faith intersects with global warming.

The Pew Research Center is a valuable place to visit to follow the changing positions Americans take when it comes to climate change. A recent 2022 survey concluded that 8% of Americans are both highly religious and very concerned about climate change.

Don Cheadle Talks with Katharine Hayhoe: Faith & Climate Change

CURRENT NEWS

Why Americans of faith need to care about reducing harm to the environment abroad

By Bridget Moix 06/06/24
Spring and summer are gardening time for many of us in the United States. I love this annual ritual of planting tiny seeds in the ground and watching what emerges. It reminds me that miracles…
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To Be Good Stewards of God’s Creation

By Rev. Susan Hendershot 06/05/24
Our religious and spiritual traditions call us to be stewards of our Sacred Earth, God’s Creation, and to care for our neighbors and those who are suffering. This means working to protect the environment and…
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There’s a link between climate crisis and Christian nationalism, McLaren says

By Jeff Brumley 05/21/24
Americans must connect the dots between the earth’s climate crisis and the resurgence of Christian nationalism and white supremacy, according to activist and theologian Brian McLaren. But they must do so without falling into defeatism…
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Governor says faith leaders have ‘powerful’ role in climate action

By Justin McLellan 05/15/24
Faith leaders must collaborate with public and private partners to set an example on combating climate change for the communities they serve, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said while standing in the Vatican Gardens.
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Investor Nuns’ Shareholder Resolutions Aim to Stop Wall Street Financing of Fossil Fuel Development on Indigenous Lands

By Keerti Gopal 05/06/24
Sister Susan Francois didn’t expect to get emotional discussing her congregation’s shareholder resolution at Citibank last week, but as she spoke to a room full of supporters about the role of the Catholic Church in…
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Pope Francis uses first ever US TV interview to slam climate change deniers as ‘fools’ and insists ‘climate change exists’

By Stephen M. Lepore 04/25/24
Pope Francis spoke out against climate change deniers, calling them 'fools' in his first ever interview on American television.
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A world of plastic: A Chicago pastor’s Earth Day message

By Joseph Chamblain 04/18/24
About 20 years ago, Bob Greene, then a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote a little book called Once Upon a Town. It was about a canteen that the citizens of North Platte, Nebraska, operated…
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Union for Reform Judaism pledges to divest millions from fossil fuel industry

By Asaf Elia-Shalev 04/11/24
The organization representing the largest American Jewish denomination is pledging to divest from the fossil fuel industry as a response to the climate crisis.
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Beyond Greening: Jewish Responses to Climate Emergency

By Lawrence Macdonald 04/01/24
For many American Jews, it’s hard to make space for thinking about climate change in the wake of October 7 and amid the war in Israel and Gaza. Already before Hamas’s October 7 attack, American…
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In a first, Oregon’s Jewish federations pull investments from fossil fuels

By Asaf Elia-Shalev 03/29/24
Oregon’s two Jewish communal federations have decided to divest their endowment funds from the fossil fuel industry due to concerns about the ongoing impact of the climate crisis.
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Catholic, Christian groups share faith-driven plan for ‘climate adaptation’ with Congress

03/22/24
Catholic and Christian groups joined together March 20 to discuss a faith-driven approach to solving problems associated with climate change in a panel discussion on Capitol Hill.
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Arizona bishop thanks Pope Francis for calling out US impacts on climate change

By Brian Roewe 03/20/24
The Catholic bishop of Tucson, Arizona, thanked Pope Francis for calling out "irresponsible" lifestyles in the United States that have contributed to climate change. Bishop Edward Weisenburger made the comments March 18 during an event…
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KEY RESOURCES

WHAT IS CCOP?

04/22/24
You will share in the credentials of our Christian NGO observer organizations, officially recognized by the UNFCCC. This means that you will be granted access to the COP29 conference grounds, able to attend those meetings,…

Address of the Holy Father to the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

12/02/23
We publish below the Holy Father’s speech prepared on the occasion of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which takes place from 30 November to 12…

The Evangelical Environmental Network

09/07/23
The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a ministry that educates, inspires, and mobilizes Christians in their effort to care for God's creation.

Let’s talk faith & climate

05/26/21
Communication Guidance For Faith Leaders

Books and Articles

04/01/21
Yale forum on religion and Ecology  

Communications Engagement

03/31/21
Our Moving Forward: A Guide to Climate Action For Your Congregation and Community provides you with information and resources to reduce energy use, to build  

Our Mission

03/31/21
Because the Earth and all people are sacred and at risk, GreenFaith is building a worldwide, multi-faith climate and environmental movement. Together our members create communities to transform ourselves, our spiritual institutions, and society to…

Mission & History

03/30/21
Vision Interfaith Power & Light envisions a stable climate where humans live in right and just relationship, interconnected with a healthy, thriving, natural world. Mission Interfaith Power & Light inspires and mobilizes people of faith…

Indigenous Environmental Network

03/30/21
www.ienearth.org Indigenous Environmental Network      

Why faith and environment matters

03/30/21
Spiritual values drive individual behaviours for more than 80 per cent of people. In many countries, spiritual beliefs and religions define cultural values, social inclusion, political engagement and economic prosperity. In 2008, the United Nations…

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Religion and Foreign Policy: The Fourth National Climate Assessment

03/30/21
The U.S. Global Change Research Program issued its National Climate Assessment in November. Three-hundred author scientists from thirteen agencies produced a 1000+ page report without censorship. Climate changes across the United States will result in…

Climate Caretakers

05/12/20
Climate Caretakers commit to care for the climate through regular prayer and action that glorifies God and loves our neighbors.

Interfaith Power and Light – Congregational Solar Directory

05/12/20
The number of congregations with solar has more than doubled since the last survey in 2016 for a total of 770! Their combined efforts equal 45 megawatts of installed solar...

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

02/14/20
We are young evangelicals in the United States who are coming together and taking action to overcome the climate crisis as part of our Christian discipleship and witness.

20.’25: The Global Evangelical Clean Energy Initiative

01/31/20
In the pursuit of its objectives, WEA Creation Care Task Force, the WEA Business Coalition, and the WEA Sustainability Center have partnered to work with Smart Roofs Solar to support WEA’s Project 20.’25 to assist…

World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center

01/31/20
The WEA Sustainability Center connects 600 million evangelical Christians around the globe with global efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Sustainable Development Goals); provides impetus for broader engagement of evangelical church communities…

A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions (2015)

02/14/20
Drawing on the two authors' experiences, one as an internationally recognized climate scientist and the other as an evangelical leader of a growing church, this book explains the science underlying global warming, the impact that…

MORE NEWS

The Christian case for fighting climate change is being tested in Eastern Oregon

By Antonio Sierra   02/25/23  
Like many Christian stories, the origin of Climate Vigil began with an awakening. Peter Fargo, who founded the group, traces the idea back to the birth of his son in 2019. “There was something about…
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Could churches be prime locations for EV charging stations? One company thinks so.

By Amethyst Holmes   02/23/23  
As more drivers make the decision to switch from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles, places to power them remain few and far between in large parts of the country. And with the Inflation Reduction Act…
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Christian climate activist challenges church to take action

By Kathryn Post   02/17/23  
When Kyle Meyaard-Schaap was 17, his brother came home from a semester abroad and announced the unthinkable: He was a vegetarian.
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To reach critical audiences, we need more faith-based climate news

By Teresia Gitau   02/15/23  
There is an urgent need to train faith-based journalists and editors in reporting on the environment and climate challenges across the globe.
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Solar PV on U.S. Houses of Worship: Overview of Market Activity and Trends

By Barbose, Galen L. and Sydney Forrester   02/01/23  
Rooftop solar photovoltaic systems on houses of worship can provide unique community benefits and can raise local awareness and acceptance of solar energy. Recognizing that potential, a stakeholder team selected under DOE’s Solar Energy Innovation…
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Changing the Conversation on Climate Change

By Daniel Silliman   01/27/23  
One of the reasons YECA was founded was that climate change was not really being discussed. Remember, 2012 was an election year and climate change wasn’t coming up in the campaigns and the debates.
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Buddhist Voices in the Climate Crisis: The Eightfold Path of Sustainability

By Gabriel Durham   12/22/22  
Even if one has never studied the Dharma, mindful work in the sustainability sector over the last decade or three carries many powerful teachings of Buddhism. Among these teachings are the impermanence of our world—in…
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Younger evangelicals in the U.S. are more concerned than their elders about climate change

By Michael Lipka and Others   12/07/22  
Young people around the world have been at the forefront of climate change protests, and in the United States, adults under 40 are considerably more likely than their elders to express concern about the issue…
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Religious Americans worried about climate change are diverse

By Ayurella Horn-Muller   12/05/22  
Highly religious Americans concerned about warming temperatures around the globe are racially and ethnically diverse, according to survey results from a recent Pew Research Center report. The big picture: While few very religious Americans say…
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Pew poll: 42% of religious Americans pray for the environment

By Kate Yoder   11/17/22  
Religious Americans overwhelmingly believe they have a duty to protect the Earth, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, with 80 percent saying God entrusted them with that responsibility. The survey also…
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Poll: Politics drives religious Americans’ views on the environment

By Yonat Shimron   11/17/22  
Many reasons have been suggested as to why highly religious Americans are less likely to be worried about climate change or work to try to stem it. But in the end, a new Pew Research…
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Religious groups’ views on climate change

By Becka A. Alper   11/17/22  
Most Americans say the Earth is getting warmer, including a narrow majority (53%) who say it is mostly because of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels. Most also view global climate change as an…
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‘It makes climate change real’: How carbon emissions got rebranded as ‘pollution’

By Kate Yoder   10/22/22  
What do you think of when you hear the word "pollution" — a city smothered in smog, a beach strewn with trash, factories pumping out dark clouds?
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Bible demands action on climate change, Evangelicals say in new report

By Jack Jenkins   08/30/22  
The National Association of Evangelicals has unveiled a sweeping report on global climate change, laying out what its authors call the “biblical basis” for environmental activism to help spur fellow evangelicals to address the planetary…
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Editorial: The Vatican acts on climate change, but US bishops dawdle

By NCR Editorial Staff   07/28/22  
Not a week after James Webb Space Telescope photos dazzled our eyes with the sparkling, cool colors of the universe, we were then confronted with the harsh, hot reality facing us here on planet Earth…
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Hallelujah, churches have seen the light

By Amy Westervelt   07/10/22  
The Presbyterian Church made a huge announcement this week: it will divest $4-$7 million from fossil fuels entirely. That includes removing its money from five oil companies: Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66 and…
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Commissioners approve divestment from five energy companies

By Mike Ferguson   07/06/22  
By a 340-41 margin on Wednesday, commissioners to the 225th General Assembly voted to place five energy companies — Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy — on the General Assembly Divestment/Proscription List…
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Global faith institutions announce divestment as oil and gas companies threaten 1.5°c climate goal with reckless expansion plans

07/05/22  
In a challenge to the fossil fuel industry’s dangerous expansion plans and increasingly empty rhetoric on climate, 35 faith institutions from seven countries today announced their divestment from fossil fuel companies. Organised by the World…
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A Christian Response to Climate Change: Q&A with Katharine Hayhoe and Sandra Richter

07/03/22  
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver…
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Religious leaders urge banks to stop financing drivers of climate change

By Jake Spring   05/09/22  
Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders joined United Nations officials on Monday in urging financial institutions to stop bankrolling activities that are driving climate change, including ending support for new fossil fuel projects.
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Virginia church ‘leading by example’ on climate action through solar, efficiency

By Elizabeth McGowan   03/23/22  
When the choir at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ complained about overheating while harmonizing under incandescent lights more than 15 years ago, congregant John Overholt didn’t just empathize.
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Vatican Calls for a ‘Cultural Revolution’ to Fight Climate Change

By Angely Mercado   02/25/22  
The Vatican is once again trying to make climate action a key issue for Catholics, as it launches a program called the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, named after the Pope’s 2015 letter that framed protecting…
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New D.C. solar farm is response to Pope Francis’s call to care for Earth

By YCC Team   01/03/22  
Catholic sisters living in a convent in northeast Washington, D.C., used to look out their windows at a big, empty field. Now they gaze out at a solar farm that, in spring, will have flowers…
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Build Back Better: Evangelicals say now is not the time to turn our backs on climate investments

By Rev. Mitch Hescox and Dr. Jessica   01/02/22  
When it comes to clean energy and climate policy, Senator Joe Manchin has been a driving force and lead negotiator for many of the most consequential pieces of legislation passed by the US Congress –…
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Meet the ecologist who works for God and fights against grass

By Cara Buckley   12/07/21  
A Long Island couple say that fighting climate change and protecting biodiversity starts at home. Or rather, right outside your home in the suburbs.
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Indigenous and faith leaders urge Procter & Gamble to end logging of old-growth forests

By Diana Kruzman   11/09/21  
Mitchell Lands couldn’t make the trip south from Canada, where he lives on the traditional lands of the Migisi Sahgaigan, or Eagle Lake First Nation, in the province of Ontario. But Lands’ voice echoed in…
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Finding common ground between faith and science on climate change

By Pamela McCall and Elaine Clark   11/08/21  
In June, 90% of Utah was in “extreme drought.” Gov. Spencer Cox asked Utahns to cut back their water use — and to pray for rain. That drew ire on social media. Some said the…
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Caught between hope and despair on climate change

By Thomas Reese   11/04/21  
As world leaders meet in Glasgow, Scotland, I am depressed by the inability of nations to deal with the coming climate catastrophe. The fault is not entirely on the heads of world leaders. They are…
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As COP26 conference gathers, faith-based environmentalists fight ‘eco-grief’

By Elizabeth E. Evans   11/02/21  
There’s a word for climate disaster fatigue: It’s called “eco-grief.” As the United Nations Climate Conference (known as COP26) gathers world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, over the next two weeks to discuss climate change, and…
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Faith groups increasingly join fight against climate change

By Luis Andres Henao And Jessie Wardarski   11/02/21  
On a boat ride along a bayou that shares the name of his Native American tribe, Donald Dardar points to a cross marking his ancestors’ south Louisiana burial ground — a place he fears will…
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Demonstrators Hold Multi-Faith Rally for Climate Change Action

By Ben Kern and WORT News Department   10/18/21  
Dozens gathered around the Wisconsin Capitol Building today for one mission: improving global climate health. The event, called Prayers for the Planet, was coordinated through Greenfaith — a worldwide, multi-faith coalition that seeks a better…
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‘Destroying the planet is against our religion,’ say Colorado Springs religious leaders at climate protest

By Debbie Kelley   10/18/21  
When religious leaders speak, people tend to listen. That’s why about 40 people representing different faith traditions gathered on the steps of Colorado Springs City Hall Friday to reiterate a theme common to the beliefs…
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Biden to Discuss Climate Change With Pope Francis at Vatican

By Justin Sink   10/14/21  
President Joe Biden is expected discuss the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change with Pope Francis at the Vatican later this month, ahead of international summits in Rome and Glasgow, Scotland.
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‘You are making the future today’, Pope tells youth climate activists

By Angelo Amante   09/29/21  
Pope Francis on Wednesday praised youth climate campaigners for their efforts to tackle global warming and encouraged them to carry on with their work "for the good of humanity". Thousands of young activists have converged…
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Baltimore is hooking up a Black megachurch with some serious solar battery power

By Maria Gallucci   09/14/21  
Empowerment Temple, a predominantly Black megachurch in Baltimore’s Park Heights area, is a place neighbors can often go for free meals, school supplies, and drive-thru COVID-19 tests. Soon, they’ll also be able to visit the…
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Christian leaders unite to issue stark warning over climate crisis

By Harriet Sherwood   09/07/21  
Archbishop of Canterbury, pope and leader of Orthodox church ask for people’s prayers ahead of Cop26
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Hindu perspectives in addressing the global environmental crisis| Gopal D. Patel(Gopal Lila das)

07/28/21  
Gopal D. Patel (Gopal Lila das) has been a faith-based environmental activist, campaigner, and consultant for over 10 years, working in India, East Africa, Europe, and North America. He is Co-Founder and Director of Bhumi…
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Religious Americans Demand Climate Action

By Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons and Maggie Siddiqi   07/21/21  
President Joe Biden has pursued a bold agenda to address the climate crisis. On his first day in office, he had the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement.1 A week later, he signed an executive…
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In the Midwest, faith communities are ramping up the fight against climate change

By Jena Brooker   06/30/21  
Outside the hulking limestone facade of Gesu Catholic Church and School in Detroit, Michigan, a group of fifth and sixth graders sit in the grass next to two rain gardens full of native plants —…
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Church offers guidelines for response to climate migration

By Christopher Wells   05/27/21  
A new booklet published by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development “calls on us to broaden the way we look at this drama of our time” – the drama of “those driven from their…
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Methodist Church dumps Shell over ‘inadequate’ climate plans

05/27/21  
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Vatican official: Church divestment from fossil fuels is ‘moral imperative’

By Brian Roewe   05/20/21  
An official in the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development urged Catholic institutions around the world to divest from fossil fuels, calling it a moral and theological imperative and a response to Pope Francis'…
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John Kerry, US climate envoy, meets pope and speaks at Vatican conference

By Cindy Wooden   05/15/21  
John Kerry, U.S. President Joe Biden's special envoy for climate, met privately with Pope Francis May 15, the day after giving a keynote address at a closed-door meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and…
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Spiritual leaders seek to spur an ‘ecological conversion’

By Steve Curwood   05/13/21  
Science and policy are vital in building a more sustainable world, but they often don’t convey the values that engage and encourage people to participate in the process. Spiritual traditions and ancient teachings, on the other…
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Young evangelicals push to ‘build a bigger choir loft’ for U.S. climate action

By Laurie Goering   05/12/21  
Growing up in a conservative Christian home and school, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap learned a lot about scripture and its values but "almost nothing about climate change", he remembers. The U.S. evangelical movement he belongs to has…
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Le Moyne Jesuits among CNY religious leaders to call for a transition from fossil fuels

By Maddie Rhodes   05/12/21  
Around 400,000 religious members across upper New York have signed this statement. Endorsers of the statement include the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.
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COP and the Cloth: Quantitatively and Normatively Assessing Religious NGO Participation at the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

By David Krantz   05/10/21  
How much is religion quantitatively involved in global climate politics? After assessing the role of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from a normative perspective, this descriptive, transdisciplinary…
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Ashes to ashes: Pentecostalism, the PM and the climate crisis

By Graham Readfearn   05/08/21  
“We are called, all of us, for a time and for a season and God would have us use it wisely.” Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister and a Pentecostal Christian, flew in on a taxpayer-funded…
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I couldn’t go back to school. So I started a farm to connect with my Jewish values.

By Remi Welbel   05/04/21  
After being sent home from school, a life of relative COVID-ignorant bliss, I arrived in the ravaging chaos of the pandemic. My mother — the head of infection control and epidemiology for the largest public…
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5 Buddhist Practices to Help Tackle Climate Change

By Lama Willa B. Miller   05/02/21  
Climate change can feel so immense that it hurts just to think about. Lama Willa Miller offers five meditations to help bring the truth of climate change into your awareness and lay the ground for a…
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