Religious Environmentalists Call Trump’s Reversal On Climate Change “Morally Unjustifiable”

By Ilgin Beygo Yorulmaz 

President Trump signed a wide-ranging executive order Tuesday, dismantling a series of Obama-era environment regulations collectively called the Clean Power Plan aimed at restricting carbon emissions from power plants and, what Reuters called, “a critical element in helping the United States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.”  Trump’s action comes days after a statement by Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt called the Paris Climate Change Agreement as a “bad deal.” 

The order also abolishes a requirement that government officials consider the impacts of climate change in their decision-making and reverses climate change gains achieved so far.  

For many faith communities, climate change and caring for the earth is a matter of spiritual urgency and faith rooted environmentalists reacted to the executive order calling it “morally unjustifiable.”

“President Trump campaigned on a platform of concern for vulnerable people over political and economic elites,” said Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, national organizer and spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.).

“As young evangelical Christians, we reject President Trump’s repudiation of overwhelming climate science. We reject his demonstrated preference for a handful of fossil fuel elites over the millions of vulnerable people around the world whose very lives are threatened by the impacts of climate change. We refuse to stay silent as God’s creation is actively and wantonly exploited.”

This sentiment was echoed by Dan Misleh, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant who wrote in a press release:

“The executive orders signed today by President Trump neither protect our common home nor promote the common good. By rolling back current and proposed federal rules designed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the power sector as well as discounting the social costs of fossil fuels, the Trump administration is jeopardizing not only the long-term sustainability of our planet, but the immediate health and well-being of those with the fewest resources: the poorest and most vulnerable people at home and abroad.”

Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founder and Senior Rabbi at IKAR in Los Angeles makes the connection between loving God and loving God’s Creation:

“Removal of these protections (Clean Power Plan) will have a devastating and likely irreversible impact. We know that the looming climate catastrophe will cause disproportionate harm to low-income communities and communities of color, both in the United States and around the world. We know that extreme weather events will lead to economic uncertainty and destabilization. This is a disaster in the making.

I cannot conceive of a calculation in which it is possible to love God while actively endangering God’s most precious creations: the earth itself and the human beings who inhabit it.

Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith,  was even more direct: “More climate change mean more droughts and floods, more hunger, more disease, more poverty, more suffering.   This executive order is tragic at an epic level, and morally unjustifiable.”

[easy-tweet tweet=”This executive order is tragic at an epic level, and morally unjustifiable.” user=”RevFHarper”]

Author and founder of the international environmental organization Bill McKibben tweeted

Sunita Viswanath, director of the progressive Hindu movement Sadhana noted that climate change is a faith issue for all Hindus:

“Ahimsa is a central tenet in our faith–non-violence to each other, to other species, and to our Mother Earth. If the rivers and oceans and our planet itself are sacred to us, then how can we not see protecting them as part of our religious obligation? “ 

Brian McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration reacted to the Executive Action by going back to scripture:

 “In the book of Genesis, human beings are given the responsibility of caring for the earth as God’s precious creation. President Trump and the GOP are aiding and abetting those who want to exploit and carelessly plunder the earth. In the Gospels, Jesus teaches that God cares for every sparrow that falls, but President Trump and his GOP partners are showing careless disregard for the earth by rolling back needed protections for our air, rivers, soil, and seas.” 

Poet, activist and 2017 Lives of Committment Honoree Lyla June Johnston responded out of her Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages:

“There is nothing more unjust than selling the future of the unborn. Furthermore, we must defy this legislation not only for our sake and or children’s sake, but for the bandits’ sake as well; we must ensure their plan does not work so that when their soul departs their body they can rest well knowing their senselessness did not take root. We are battling not only for our souls, but for the souls of the senseless as well.”


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