Press Release — April 26, 2017

Diverse Faiths Unify to Resist Trump Climate Agenda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2017
Contact: Rev. Fletcher Harper (201) 390-0094, Joelle Novey (202) 256-1450


Clerics call Climate Crisis a Cardinal Sin

Washington, DC — Multi-faith pilgrims on a moral high road will unify to  honor God’s creation at the Peoples Climate March on the National Mall, April 29.  The event, which comes as a crescendo in a week of climate action, is expected to draw tens of thousands from every state and broad support from over 300 sister marches planned in the U.S. and around the world.

“The current Congress and the administration have taken regressive, destructive positions on climate change, denying basic climate science, proposing policies that will harm human health, eliminate green jobs, and increase greenhouse gas emissions,” says Rev. Fletcher Harper, national coordinator of the PCM faith contingent and executive director of GreenFaith, a global interfaith coalition for the environment.  “This is exactly the wrong direction, and it is sinful.”

“Over the last seven years, I have spoken to thousands of people in local congregations,” says Joelle Novey, director of Interfaith Power and Light of DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia and coordinator of local faith organizing for the March.  “In every one of those congregations, good folks understand that burning fossil fuels is pouring heat-trapping climate pollution into our skies, causing our earth to warm, harming our neighbors and all Creation — and that we are called to respond.”

Congregants from mosques, churches, synagogues, temples and other communities of faith will assemble at 11:00 a.m. on the National Mall at 3rd Street between Madison Street &  Jefferson Drive, where they will sing songs and chants from diverse traditions.

Community organizer and pastor Rev. Leo Woodberry is making the trip from Florence, South Carolina with 100 community and church members from Kingdom Living Temple, and the local high school choir.  “We are coming to Washington, DC, because as people of color and faith, we have a moral obligation to advocate for those who will be most harmed by the Administration’s proposed budget cuts,” he says.

Indonesian-American Nana Firman, Muslim Outreach Coordinator for GreenFaith, feels much the same way, reacting to the harassment and mistreatment of the Muslim community in the first months of the Trump Administration.

“As a Muslim immigrant living in the United States, it has been such a challenging time. As a climate activist, the reality of climate change not only has grave implications for the future of our planet, but also represents one of the great moral and ethical issues of our time. That’s why Muslims are taking part in this People’s Climate March,” she says.

For years, faith communities have called on the US government to offer leadership on climate change.  These same groups have played an important role in the fossil fuel divestment movement and advocated actively in support of the Paris Climate, which EPA Director Scott Pruitt has called a “bad deal.”

“I will be marching to demand an ambitious climate policy, one that meets the severity of the crisis, says Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American Buddhist monk and founding chair of Buddhist Global Relief.  “I will be marching on behalf of truth, to insist that we cannot close our ears to the warnings of our best scientists to show our government that America must live up to its highest ideals, that we must serve the rest of the world as a model of wise, conscientious, and compassionate leadership.”

At 12:30 p.m. the faith contingent, with Muslims in the lead, will begin to march behind other PCM groups representing frontline environment communities, labor, immigrants, educators and others.

“The climate crisis is the biggest challenge facing humanity,” says Gopal Patel, Director of the Bhumi Project, a Hindu environmental organization. “That is why the Hindu community – here in America and around the world – are making their voices heard along with others and why we are marching in Washington, DC today.”

The mass demonstration will encircle the White House grounds for a silent sit-in followed by a collective breaking into a wave of sound.

“Climate justice is one of the great ethical, social, and humanitarian challenges of our time and so our faith impels us to act,” says Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network, which has led organizing of the Catholic community for the March.  “To allow so many to suffer, to stand by and to watch as the planet that has sustained us for so long struggles to survive, is inarguably immoral.”

Post-March activities continue on the grounds of the Washington Monument with music, art projects and storytelling as an expression of collective resistance.

Available for interviews:
Rev Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith Executive Director
Joelle Novey, Director, Interfaith Power and Light DC, MD and NOVA
Patrick Carolan, Franciscan Action Network
Shantha Ready Alonso, Creation Justice Ministries
Mirele Goldsmith, Jewish Climate March Organizing Hub
Gopal Patel, Bhumi Project
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Global Relief
Alaura Carter, Sojourners
Nana Firman, GreenFaith Muslim Outreach Coordinator
Sahar Alsahlani, Council on American-Islamic Relations

Quotes:

Sahar Alsahlani
Council on American-Islamic Relations
“As a Muslim, I feel compelled to honor the bestowed trust given to us by God, and become the stewards of our common home. We all, collectively, need to help restore the compromised balance within the sanctuary that houses us, protects us, gives us water, feeds us, and provides  beauty, refuge and wonder to humans, and all other life forms, insha’allah.”

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
President, Jewish Climate Action Network

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” (Gen. 1:) The gift of the Earth was given at the very beginning and we humans are the only ones able to destroy it and the only ones able to save it. Our time is short – we must act now. It is our religious and our moral obligation to do so.”

Swami Atmajnanananda
Vedanta Center of Greater Washington, DC

“Honoring and preserving the earth and the environment from the Hindu perspective is a spiritual issue which goes to the heart of our vision of the divine in nature and to cultivating an attitude of gratitude and worshipfulness with regard to our environment.”

Robert Bank
President, CEO, American Jewish World Service

“As Jews, we believe that the earth, its inhabitants and the universe are part of a whole, which all people are obligated to safeguard. At this crucial time, we as a Jewish community are working to reverse the causes of climate change. We are also seeking justice for poor people in the developing world who have contributed the least to causing climate change but bear the brunt of the damaging storms, droughts and floods it causes. We are proud to sponsor and build support among American Jews for the People’s Climate March, in coalition with our allies who are mobilizing their communities.”

LeeAnne Beres
Executive Director, Earth Ministry, Washington Interfaith Power & Light

“There is a consensus in the faith community that climate change is one of the most important moral issues of our time. We believe that we can tackle the problem of climate change head-on with positive, common-sense solutions that strengthen our economy, take control of our energy future, protect our environment, and create a more just and sustainable world for everyone. Together, we are standing in solidarity with those most impacted by climate change and working to address both its causes and its effects.”

The Reverend Canon Sally G. Bingham
President, The Regeneration Project, Interfaith Power & Light

“Climate change is already negatively affecting life on earth.  If letters, phone calls, petitions and science aren’t enough, perhaps thousands and thousands of people marching for climate protection around the White House will get the attention of the President and ignite some moral integrity.”

Venerable Bhikku Bodhi
American Buddhist monk and founding chair of Buddhist Global Relief

“I will join the People’s Climate Mobilization with hundreds of environmentally concerned fellow Buddhists on behalf of people here in the U.S. and for people all around the world, especially those whose voices will never reach our leaders. I will be marching to demand an ambitious climate policy, one that meets the severity of the crisis. I will be marching on behalf of truth, to insist that we cannot close our ears to the warnings of our best scientists. I will be marching to show our government that America must live up to its highest ideals, that we must serve the rest of the world as a model of wise, conscientious, and compassionate leadership.”

Imam Saffet A. Catovic
Chair of Green Muslim of New Jersey; Muslim Chaplain at Drew University, Madison, NJ

“As a Muslim  I am directed by God in the Quran “to walk softly on the earth.”  This is a call from scripture for us to adopt a healthy and wholesome low-impact lifestyle characterized by reducing our carbon footprint.  Addressing climate change helps others not just by preserving the planet for us all, but also by improving public health and economic prosperity, particularly amongst those most affected by climate change: people of color and the poor.”

Chris Fici
Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus

“We march with our fellow Hindus, and with all of our brothers and sisters across the spectrum of faith and concern, because we are devoted to our Mother Earth, our Bhumi-Devi. This feeling of devotion, which Hindus call bhakti, is such a profound energy of love, compassion, and justice, which breaks down all barriers and removes all obstacles of hatred and ignorance against Earth and all of our fellow planetary beings. Every step we take together this weekend is a step rooted in the energy of devotion, of bhakti.”

Laurel Kearns
Co-Founder, Green Seminary Initiative; Drew Theological School

“Those of us in theological education recognize that climate change is a defining physical and moral context that will shape the ministries of all of our students, their congregations and organizations. As people of many faiths, we are called to seek justice by loving our neighbors, near and far, and to care for all of creation. Climate change threatens the wellbeing of all, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Mat McDermott
Hindu American Foundation

“Hinduism offers a much needed perspective on how humans can create a new sort of relationship with the natural world than the one which has become the norm over the past decades. We need to move from a relationship of dominion and exploitation of the natural world to one where a sense of pluralism, reverence, and individual duty is balanced with pursuit of prosperity, worldly success, and pleasure, in a greater pursuit of truth, spiritual insight and realization.”

Bee Moorehead
Executive Director, Texas Impact and Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy

“As we confront the realities of climate change—including diseases; famine; drought; and savagely displaced people—we feel remorse, dread, and alienation. But our faith traditions teach us that we are made for love and community. Our faith gives us courage as we make changes in our own lives, and hope as we work for changes in the political and economic systems that threaten our collective future.”

Nigel Savage
CEO, Hazon

“Jewish tradition certainly calls for protecting the earth. But this is no longer just a moment for pious words. Synagogues across the country are taking significant steps to green themselves. Jewish schools are integrating environmental education into their curricula. Rabbis are speaking up. And American Jews of all ages and background want to see this country and our government help to make things
better and not worse.”

Rev. Peter Sawtell
Founder, Eco-Justice Ministries

“The theological perspective of eco-justice has been described as ‘the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth.  To make any progress toward that faithful vision of God’s creation at peace, we need to stand up for a stable climate, decent jobs, and social justice — the three goals of this climate march.”

Rabbi Shira Stutman
Senior Rabbi, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, Washington, DC

“Jewish tradition teaches that God created the world, and it is our job to work in partnership with God to keep this world healthy. In recent years, humanity has not lived up to its end of the bargain. I hope that the Climate March serves as a moment of teshuva, of re-centering, as we remind ourselves that the work of healing our planet is in our hands.”

Jim Wallis
Founder and Editor, Sojourners

“The communities that Jesus calls us to protect and defend – the poor, refugees and immigrants, those without access to food and clean water — are being affected by climate change already, and will be the most devastated by climate change in the future. That’s why faith communities, including Christians, are joining the People’s Climate March on April 29. Climate change must not be just “an issue” among many to elevate on our list of priorities, rather  it is integral to all the other things Christians care about.”

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