From Jews celebrating Sukkot in green style, Muslims promoting a green hajj and Baha’is working to promote sustainability, the Middle East is something of a green faith haven. However, the role that the Christian community plays in promoting environmentalism both in the West and the Middle East tends to get overlooked. In this post, I explore various Christian values such as ‘love thy neighbour’ and caring for the poor which are encouraging church-goers worldwide to tackle the global issue of climate change.
Sharing Equally and Living In Dignity
Around a month ago, Christian leaders alongside Rabbis and Imams met in Jerusalem to talk about the role that faith can play in resolving the ecological crisis. At the event, Bishop Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said, “We are accountable for how we use this Earth. The earth is like our home, and those who live in the same home should know how to live together…The main religions should study ecological issues together because we have a common destiny. ”
Indeed, it is widely held in Christianity that the earth and its resources are for people to share equally and all humans have the right to live in dignity. In the past, poverty has been seen as the major barrier to realising this equality but now a consensus is slowly emerging that climate change – and the unfair impact it will have the world’s poor – is another dimensions which needs to be addressed.
Ending Poverty and Love Thy Neighbour
Over the weekend, I joined a protest of over 1,000 Christians in the UK who called on the government to do more to protect the poorest from the impacts of a warming planet. Many of the people I spoke to told me that a sense of justice and the need to protect the poorest from droughts and floods had brought them to the rally. At the heart of their motivation to take action was the ‘love thy neighbour’ principle which meant that they couldn’t stand by whilst the planet becomes more inhabitable and more people are pushed into poverty.
In fact, some environmental leaders such as Bill McKibben (who is a Christian) have already called on environmental and faith organisations to get together to halt runaway global warming. Speaking at a faith and sustainability lecture in Cambridge, he also explained that the West had so far failed in its duty to ‘love thy neighbour’. Even when you take into account the aid that the West has given to the developing world, McKibben insisted that it still didn’t make up for the greenhouse gases that they had also sent which would have profound impacts on the planet and their ability to live their lives.
With this in mind, it’s high time that people of all faiths got together, acknowledged the injustice of changing climate and worked together to halt it.
: Image via Arwa Aburawa.
For more on green faith in the Middle East see: