Nearly all religious traditions have a deep respect for the earth, its plant life, its creatures, and the humans who inhabit it. They also share a concern for justice and the well-being of whoever is unable to provide for their own basic needs. We may have different visions of God, as father, mother, judge, compassionate one, but a core belief of all the major religions is one that envisions a God who created the world to benefit all who live on it. Being good stewards of the earth’s resources goes hand in hand with ministering to the human beings who sit in our pews.
There can be no doubt that environmental degradation inevitably impacts the poorest people the most. In many parts of the world, flood, drought, heat waves and the famine, disease and conflicts that arise from those stressors, have uprooted people from their homes and left them unable to adequately feed their families. In cities and rural areas in our own country, aging housing means children poisoned from lead, asbestos and unclean water. In crowded cities, emissions from vehicles poison our air and our soil. Landfills, polluting industries and mining operations are inevitably located in low-income areas. The unending trail of disasters rooted in our rapidly changing climate - fires, floods, drought, hurricanes and tornadoes wreak their greatest destruction on poor, uninsured communities. It’s time for we people of faith who profess to care for the well-being of those in need to say, “Enough!”
Knowledge brings power and a community of support lessens the load. RAICA’s summit will initiate conversations and provide skills for building a new Rochester. We need to work together now for a just economy built on non-polluting infrastructure and good jobs for all. We can see climate change as an overwhelming threat or as an invitation to embrace a simpler, more ethical economy where all people have access to healthy, energy-efficient housing and opportunities to work.
Come to the summit and bring your pastor, imam or rabbi to learn how congregations and individuals can take advantage of new rebates to reduce their carbon footprint while making their building healthier and more comfortable. Talk to solar and geothermal providers and learn how installing an EV charger can bring income to your institution. Most of all, come to be inspired by other people like yourself who are called by faith to care for the earth and those who live on it.