As the Rev. Fletcher Harper wrote: “If religion cannot provide meaningful leadership on one of the most pressing issues facing the human family, then it will lose its ability to present itself as a moral force.”
Remember, we accomplish societal transformations (e.g., segregation to integration, fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels) by exerting “power against power.” [Reinhold Niebuhr]
10/16/2018 Speaker in Dubuque: Call for climate change action should come from people of faith | Tri-state News | telegraphherald.com
Matt Russell told a Dubuque gathering on Sunday that action on climate change can and should begin in church basements.
“This is a matter of faith, and we have the tools in our toolbox as people of faith to make sure we share the message of hopefulness,” Russell said. “Where we’re at is we’re either hopeful, or we throw in the towel, and I’m not ready to throw in the towel.”
Russell is the executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, a statewide organization that is mobilizing the religious community to become leaders in the movement for climate action. Russell spoke Sunday during a meeting of the group’s Dubuque chapter at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
“Climate change results from a refusal to live in a right relationship with creation,” he said. “It’s a disregard of moral norms, and we can’t fix climate change until we fix those relationships.”
Russell said collective actions by Iowa’s faith community can drive public policy to address climate change. “We didn’t get here by individual actions,” Russell said. “We got here because of big systems, so the change isn’t going to be because of individual actions. It’s going to be systemic and that’s where people of faith can be so important.”
Russell said he advocates moving away from the “scarcity model” of the fossil fuel economy to an “abundance model” based upon renewable energy.
“It’s not that going forward we all have to stay home and make our own clothes,” Russell said. “The future of energy is focusing on natural systems that are inherently abundant. We cannot use up the sun. We cannot use up the wind. We cannot use up the ability of people to innovate. These are the gifts of abundance. It’s about working with the creator, not against nature.”
Paul Schultz, president of the nonprofit Green Dubuque, attended Russell’s discussion and said he agrees that people of faith are well-placed to act on climate change.
“The faith community is nonpartisan, and that’s valuable,” Schultz said. “It should enable us to talk and listen to one another.”
Schultz said the recently released U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment should help spur people of faith to act.
“This has to happen now, and we have limited time,” Schultz said. “Creation is the primary revelation and this is the work of the creator. If we see the world as a commodity, it’s not going to be enough.” Russell said people of faith can begin to enact change by inviting neighbors, farmers, community leaders and others to conversations in church basements.
“Moving forward, we have to find a way to work together,” he said.