Tricia Bruckbauer, coordinator for Creation Justice Ministries, held a candle and sign that shows the hash tag often used by Creation Justice Ministries and other groups when referencing the EPA and the climate.

Tricia Bruckbauer, coordinator for Creation Justice Ministries, holds a candle and a sign that shows the hashtag often used by her organization and others when referencing the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change. RNS photo by Heather Adams


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

WASHINGTON (RNS) More than two dozen faith leaders rallied at public hearings hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency to testify in support of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut greenhouse gases.

The plan was proposed June 2 and is designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants as part of the White House’s Climate Action Plan. The plan aims to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030.

In addition to the public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday (July 29-30) in Washington, the EPA held similar meetings this week in Denver, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, a longtime evangelical environmental activist, and other faith leaders see the Clean Power Plan as the first step toward a moral and comprehensive response to climate change.

Testimonies were coordinated by three groups: Creation Justice Ministries, the Washington-area chapter of Interfaith Power and Light and the progressive evangelical group Sojourners.

Emily Wirzba, program assistant for energy and environment, held a sign to help people with the words as they sang in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2014.

Emily Wirzba, program assistant for energy and environment, held a sign to help people with the words as they sang in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2014. RNS photo by Heather Adams


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

As the hearings kicked off Tuesday, activists met outside the EPA for a multifaith blessing. Joelle Novey, director of IPL’s Washington-area chapter, led the group in singing “Ma nora hamakom hazeh,” Hebrew for “How awesome is this place!”

The blessing ended with a prayer for the “process and for those providing witnesses to the importance of the EPA’s rulemaking.”

Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and a former Washington director for the National Association of Evangelicals, spoke about the effects pollution has had on his family. His son, John, was diagnosed with asthma seven years ago.

“On one occasion, before we really understood what was happening, he woke up in the morning unable to breathe,” Cizik said. “It’s the kind of frightening experience a parent never forgets.”

Since then, Cizik has worked to understand the effects of climate change that he says caused his son’s asthma attack. He said regulating power plants and the EPA’s Clean Energy Plan are essential for reducing the kinds of pollution that most scientists blame for climate change.

“I have been called by God to speak out on these issues and believe as an evangelical Christian that we must be stewards of God’s creation,” Cizik said. “And it seems abundantly clear to me that the EPA’s Clean Energy Plan is a much-needed tool for delivering on this duty.”

In addition to Cizik, various governors, environmental organizations and the public spoke in support of the Clean Power Plan.

Ashley Goff, minister for spiritual formation at Church of the Pilgrims, a Presbyterian congregation in Washington, talked about her church’s “Sacred Greens” urban garden.

She said that on Sundays, the garden is filled with hungry homeless people harvesting vegetables, just one way her church is taking care of its patch of the Earth. The EPA’s role, she said, is to regulate and care for the rest of the country.

She asked the EPA for a long-term vision, because, she said, a short-term vision won’t provide the planet with overall well-being.

While support for environmental protection runs deep in the religious community, not everyone agrees with the White House’s proposed rules. Scotty Dingess, pastor of West Logan Church of God in West Logan, W.V., opposes the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

He said there hasn’t been any change to the environment near his church but people have begun to lose jobs. There are already regulations in place that control the local coal mining industry, Dingess said.

He added that people come from all over to go on the local ATV trails, hunt, fish and float down the area’s rivers and streams. Coal mining “affects nothing as far as our atmosphere,” said Dingess, who did not attend the Washington hearings.

Cizik asked skeptics of the EPA’s plan to listen to or read the testimonies from faith leaders such as Goff.

He said many opponents are unaware or are in denial about climate change, and he is afraid that could have a lasting impact. He said he looks to a line from the Gospel of Mark, “Master, let me receive my sight,” as a prayer for this issue.

“The answer to this prayer would be to pay attention, to become aware, to be mindful, to develop a certain kind of consciousness about the real impacts of carbon pollution,” Cizik said.

KRE/MG END ADAMS

9 Comments

  1. Thanks for not referring to these folks as “religious conservatives,” as that idiotic NYT story on the EPA thing did. It shows how little time that reporter spent around religious conservatives or even reading the work of the folks at the rally.

  2. If a person believes in God or wants to believe they are praying to Jesus I have no problem with that – it would be harmless as far as it goes.

    But when religion recommends the denial of facts it is harmful to society.
    Not only the scientific facts – which happen to be the best facts available – but the facts we took for granted in this country for decades before Creationism and Intelligent Design proponents got the upper hand of the midwest.

    Coal mining “affects nothing as far as our atmosphere,” said [Pastor] Dingess, who did not attend the Washington hearings.

    Pastor ‘Dingus’ is a better spelling for that sort of sweeping irresponsibility.

  3. Hey guys, don’t forget that poor people, limited-income people, have to rely on cheap FOSSIL FUELS to keep their older used cars running, and to keep their heating and electricity costs near a semi-livable level. Poor people can’t afford fancy 2015 hybrid cars, and you can’t stick a big eco-geek windmill on top of their apartment buildings.

    So all you Global Warming Preachers out there, singing your little hymns and worshipping the (expletive deleted) EPA, you better make sure that YOU pay the extra costs that will hit America’s low- and limited-income people when Obama’s pet Global Warming Religion starts passing around the collection plate in THEIR direction !!!

  4. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    There is an old saying: “Fool me once –shame on you—-Fool me twice- –shame on me.
    You see a good percent of the skepticism about “global warming’ comes from people like myself who remember the media global cooling hysteria of a few decades ago– ginned up by the same liberal politicians, the same mainstream media, the same grant chasing scientists.
    They even had the scientific “proof” in the tons of dust and ash being tossed up into the atmosphere cutting down the suns rays.
    But anyone just raising questions or believing patience and more evidence is needed about the new hysteria of global warming is derided and insulted.

    • @Deacon,

      In this age of the internet nobody has the right to reject facts.
      You cannot ignore FACTS:

      All of the charts are measurements of actual temperatures and they correlate directly to the huge increase in carbon in the atmosphere.

      THESE ARE NOT SPECULATIVE CHARTS ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN.
      THEY ARE CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        Was the global cooling scam or gross mistake not a fact?????
        Some other facts that I have seen lately in the media. Fact. The trend in temperatures over the past 7 years has been downward.
        Fact-the media has not given this anywhere the play they have given warming stats.
        Fact: One event that helped get the global warming hysteria rolling was the fraudulent report of a British scientist (at the University of Exeter I believe). He later excused his fraud as an attempt to popularize the results of his research).
        Facts are not all on the global warming side. And it is not good science for people like Obama and Gore to say –as they have in similar words: “Shut up! we have decided!”: and for scientists to then join a virtual lynch mob. Who knows–maybe the name of one of the scientists who is now going over to the “dark side” is Galileo Galilei.

        • Just 30 years out of date. New technology and methodologies does that.

          After all its not like Bible study where people are expected to make up excuses for prior writings and factual inaccuracies. Unlike yourself, scientists are EXPECTED to revise their ideas based on new evidence.

          Btw since when have you cared about scientific research and methodologies?

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