a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

The Religious [are] Right

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Are we tipping yet? If not, there’s at least some big-time pushing going on. The Vatican declared this year that our abuse of the environment is against God’s will and they are putting their solar panels where their mouth is. And, more recently, they have become the first carbon neutral state by offsetting carbon emissions.

A Hungarian company, Klimafa, in its second year of operation, has made an offset donation, worth approximately $130,000, to the Vatican by planting trees to restore an ancient forest along the Tisza River. The proposition received a big thumbs up from Pope Benedict XVI who has gone on record supporting an international “green culture”. Although tree planting as offsets is heavily debated, in this situation, it will have an effect on both climate change and economic growth. The growing forest will absorb 10 times the carbon it does now, will be self-sustaining and the project will provide local jobs in an economically depressed area.

Environmental awareness is growing quickly among religious groups across the belief-system board and there is not much room for debate among followers. Church leadership are working to educate, inspire and lead their flocks to greener pastures through sermons, classes, and initiatives within their respective communities and beyond. One church teaches “The Green Bible”, readily pointing out that the good book calls man to be a steward of the earth and that the environment is “too important to be left to politicians.”

It seems only yesterday that the What Would Jesus Drive campaign kicked off discussion within religious communities in 2002 and brought the environmental questions into a whole new light. In actuality, the Evangelical Environmental Network & Creation Care formed in 1993, establishing a firm connection between environmental problems and spiritual problems, paving the way for healing on both fronts. This now widely-used voice speaks more loudly, asking for a faith actualized in more than the abstract in everything from conservation of resources and energy, to recycling and offsetting as a kind of “penance”. Can you hear me now?

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