By Rev. John Schleicher, Michigan IPL board chair
A poll conducted on October 13 by Climate Nexus in partnership with Yale and George Mason Universities found that voters of faith, including evangelical and mainline Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and religiously unaffiliated voters, overwhelmingly care about the effects of climate change and want to see the President and Congress in 2021 act to boldly support climate solutions.
To me this poll points to a growing majority of people in religious communities in our country who believe a) that the earth, especially its poor, its land and waters and animals, is suffering and dying prematurely because of human caused climate change but also believe b) that the President and Congress in 2021 should and could be among God’s bold agents of relief, renewal, and restoration.
To me it also suggests that many people of faith agree with the vast majority of scientists and with the young people of our time that we have a very limited time, perhaps now eight years or less, to limit if not begin to reverse the increasing suffering and devastation of the unprecedented numbers of wildfires, droughts, flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
It is always the poor, the land, the water, the animals, and, I would add, our children and grandchildren, who are and will be most immediately affected, all for whom the majority of people of faith in the religious groups surveyed believe God is especially concerned, all for whom the President and the Congress in 2021, whomever is elected, should provide strong leadership, financial investment, and support.
During my 50+ plus years of pastoral ministry, I witnessed the strip-mined land and the orange colored streams in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the toxic air in Detroit, the extreme drought and violent storms in numerous trips to Honduras, and, mostly recently, the inability for farmers to plant crops in 2019 due to unrelenting spring rains in much of Eaton County where my wife, Phylis, and I now live.
It is the poor, the land, the water, and the animals who are prematurely suffering and dying. It is our children and grandchildren who next will share this fate. But people of faith believe that those chosen to be our political leaders, can and should be agents of God’s relief, renewal and restoration.
Rev. John Schleicher is a bishop emeritus of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He currently serves as board president of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light.