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Summary:

God and global warming: A coalition of religious groups is lobbying against a federal bill that would delay an Environmental Protection Agency program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. What would Jesus do?

God and climate change

If you could eavesdrop on prayers, you might hear one like this during the holiday season: Dear God, it’s time for you to intervene and show our lawmakers why they need to be serious about fighting climate change.

Seriously. God and global warming are very much on the minds of some religious leaders these days. This week four church leaders, including a rabbi, a Lutheran bishop and a Methodist reverend, held a press conference in order to highlight a letter signed by 56 faith organizations that lobbied against a bill to delay a plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s not as weird as it may sound. Religion has always played a key role in American politics, and it often makes its way into contentious issues such as abortion and war. But religious groups also have been taking stances on global warming and its related environmental causes in recent years.

The religious leaders say climate change will disproportionally impact the poor who lack the money and other resources to fight health problems brought on by air pollution. Rev. Chris Boerger, bishop at the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in the press event that it would be a “blatant sin” to suspend the EPA’s authority to try to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions:

“The science is clear that human activities are changing the weather patterns of the planet. This misuse of creation is affecting all life forms. We are failing to be faithful stewards.”

The target of this call-to-action is Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from the coal mining state of West Virginia. Rockefeller has introduced a bill that would prevent the EPA from starting a program in January to regulate emissions from power plants and other major polluters. In 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court said the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, though the agency began doing so in earnest only after President Obama took office. Earlier this month, the EPA issued guidelines that give states a lot of discretion in regulating emissions.

Critics say the EPA is moving too fast to implement its emission-curbing rules, which will force companies to spend money to comply with them. Some lawmakers want to strip the agency’s authority to do so.

Will God side with the EPA? The agency could use some divine help. Republicans, who took control of the House after the recent election, will certainly lob legislative ammunitions at the EPA to cripple its power.

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Photo courtesy of Tambako the Jaguar

  1. I am a Christian, and understand the Bible to be the Word of God. Clearly God gave us (humankind) dominion over the earth. Out of the 13.7 or so billion (earth) years since God created the universe out of nothing, the conditions right now are optimal for advanced human civilization. We live in a highly fine-tuned environment, both with respect to the greater cosmos and Earth itself. Properly exercising dominion over the earth has to involve appreciating the environment that we have been given, and seeking to preserve it with care. Wanton disregard for the future of this planet and its inhabitants is definitely sin. Yes, Jesus is returning, but we won’t know exactly when, and it would be best if He finds us doing what is right when He returns.

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