Getting Religion on the Environment
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver March 10, 2008 - 9:50am
Two interesting and hopeful items on the religion/environment front this morning. First, the Southern Baptists issue a strongly worded statement on climate change, which the AP describes as a "major shift":
In a major shift, a group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been "too timid" on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming. The declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention among others and released Monday, shows a growing urgency about climate change even within groups that once dismissed claims of an overheating planet as a liberal ruse. The conservative denomination has 16.3 million members and is the largest Protestant group in the U.S. The signers of "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change" acknowledged that not all Christians accept the science behind global warming. They said they do not expect fellow believers to back any proposed solutions that would violate Scripture, such as advocating population control through abortion.However, the leaders said that current evidence of global warming is "substantial," and that the threat is too grave to wait for perfect knowledge about whether, or how much, people contribute to the trend. "We believe our current denominational resolutions and engagement with these issues have often been too timid," according to the statement. "Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better."
Second, the Vatican discusses environmental degradation as a sin. From Reuters:
Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight. The guidance came at the weekend when Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Vatican's number two man in the sometimes murky area of sins and penance, spoke of modern evils.
About the Author
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.