This earth is God’s creation and we have a responsibility as stewards to ensure it is protected and nurtured. One of the best statements on this subject comes from the United Methodist Social Principles:
All creation is the Lord's and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God's creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect. Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, lengthened and enriched our lives. However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, misuse and over- consumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies. This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage which God has entrusted to all generations. Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social and technological lifestyle to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God's creation.
Both candidates claim to be environmentalists. The record is clearer than the rhetoric. Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. writes that:
George W. Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental president. In a ferocious three-year attack, the Bush administration has initiated more than 200 major rollbacks of America's environmental laws, weakening the protection of our country's air, water, public lands and wildlife. Cloaked in meticulously crafted language designed to deceive the public, the administration intends to eliminate the nation's most important environmental laws by the end of the year. Under the guidance of Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the Bush White House has actively hidden its anti-environmental program behind deceptive rhetoric, telegenic spokespeople, secrecy and the intimidation of scientists and bureaucrats.
Kennedy’s full article on the Bush environmental record is a must read. I’ve recommended it before and do so again today.
The truth concerning the depth of the world’s environmental crisis demands that Christians act on Scripture and protect what God has given us to protect.
Sallie McFague is the former Carpenter Professor of Theology and former Dean at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. In her book Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age she underscores the importance of the environment for Christians:
What is at stake here is not a sentimental love of nature or a leveling of all distinctions between human beings and other forms of life but the realization, as Teilhard de Chardin says, that his and everyone else’s “poor trifling existence” is “one with the immensity of all that is and all that is still in the process of becoming.”Humanity actually wields the power to destroy this earth through nuclear war or environmental disaster. Global warming is one indicator we are moving in that direction.
Deciding who will be the next president will not in and of itself restore humanity’s relationship with God and God's creation. That much is obvious. The environmental question is more a spiritual one than a political one. How do you treat such a precious gift from God as the sustaining source of all life?
Another truth is that this election will matter. The current administration has sided time and time again with the polluters against nature. Check out the record. Could there be a greater sin?
Visit the Interfaith Climate Change Network for more information on faith and the environment. The network is a joint project of the National Council of Churches and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.