23 June 2008

Evangelicals and the Environment

According to a Reuters news report, there has been a "15 percentage point drop in the alliance of white evangelicals aged 18 to 29 with the Republican Party over the past two years. ‘This group is going to be definitely worth watching,’ said Dan Cox, a Pew research associate and author of the report. ‘If anything, they're becoming more independent in their outlook.’ Most favor stricter laws to protect the environment, for example, an issue not typically associated with Republican platforms, yet remain conservative on issues like opposition to abortion and support for the death penalty."

(Image from http://timmyroland.blogspot.com/)

Two weeks ago, five hundred of these evangelicals, many with "tattoos, scruffy facial hair, and flip flops" gathered for a conference entitled ‘Envision: the Gospel, Politics and the Future’ at Princeton, NJ, organized by a broad coalition of faith-based and academic institutions. A unique aspect of the conference were ‘Learning Tracks’ which allowed attendees to choose one of 20 topics for the entire conference. Through four 90-minute sessions, these Learning Tracks provided a chance to take on a focused course of study in an area of interest, under a leading expert in the field. The three tracks that caught my attention were:

-Caring for the Earth - See what we all can do to care for creation and address climate change and other environmental problems (by Alexei Lauschkin, who is a program assistant at the Evangelical Environmental Network)

-Beyond Consumerism - Discover how faith can help us live simply out of care for our neighbor and the earth (by Ron Sider)

-Arts for Transformation - Explore how faith and arts can be a way to inspire and lead social transformation and learn how to create such art (by Bruce Herman & Lara Scott)

Out of this dialogue came the ‘Envision Declaration,’ which was created from reports and conversations at the three-day conference. Highlights of this declaration include:

"Envision offers new voices in the public square to address the complexities that confront the United States and the world. We are racially and ethnically diverse activists, clergy, lay persons, students, and scholars who are deeply informed by a faith that compels us to participate in God’s work to eradicate poverty, create peace, and build just communities and right relationships with the earth."

"In recent times, some have used Christianity to divide us from one another and demonize others. They have placed Christianity on the side of the powerful against the powerless. Envision inaugurates a new relation between our faith and our politics. In a spirit of humility and hospitality, we seek to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God and each other."

"We acknowledge that we do not agree on all things. We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, but we will seek them together. In the midst of our differences we are committed to remain together at the table that God sets for us and not demonize each other, but talk, reason, and work together for a brighter and better future."

I agree with all that they said and decided to add my name by signing the Declaration.

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