One of my posts awhile back was lamenting the conspicuous absence of the “church” in advocating environmental conservation and protection of endangered species. It seems only fair that if I complain I also offer a potential solution. Perhaps a new, faith-based conservation organization is in order, or at least a non-profit that works to hold religious institutions accountable for their role in supporting or undermining The Creation.
To that end I propose the following mission and goals for churches when it comes to these issues:
Mission: Hold religious institutions accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) that impact the natural environment and the other creatures that inhabit the world.
- Recognize that as children of God, humans are endowed with the responsibility to protect, conserve, and manage the remainder of the animal kingdom (and plant kingdom) in a manner consistent with the desires of the Creator. Noah may have been the first wildlife conservationist, and he may be seen as a role model for the church’s approach to modern wildlife conservation.
- Include in worship services prayers for the healing of the environment in the aftermath of human-initiated ecological disasters (oil spills, deforestation, slaughter of endangered species, etc). It would not hurt to make it routine to simply pray for the welfare of all non-human animals and their habitats.
- Make ecological sustainability an overriding priority in all missions, both foreign and domestic. Aid to the poor should include lessons in sustainable practices, especially in regards to agriculture.
- Church grounds shall reflect respect for nature and an enhancement of native habitats whenever possible. This means planting native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, providing nest boxes for breeding birds, and limiting the amount of acreage devoted to lawns. Community gardens, when on church grounds, shall be managed with limited use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
- Community service projects shall include clean-up and maintenance of local parks, waterways, and other areas critical to native wildlife and plants.
- Teaching of Creationism shall include modern stories of wildlife conservation to illustrate the ongoing need to be responsible stewards of the planet Earth.
- Church congregations shall be encouraged to donate to conservation and environmental organizations.
- Sermons based on the accomplishments and philosophies of Noah, St. Francis, and other notable religious conservationists should be incorporated into worship schedules whenever appropriate and possible.
- Strive to reach out to scientists who may be schooled in the teachings of evolution, but who share a commitment to creating a healthier planet Earth through wildlife conservation and sustainable energy, agriculture, and environmental policies. Cooperation, not conflict, should be the order of the day. Science and religion have complementary roles here.
Scientists, for their part, should recognize the power of the Church to mobilize their congregations. Creationists could be, and should be, powerful allies in creating an ecologically-sustainable future for mankind. This will not happen as long as arguments rage over how Creation came to be. We can agree to disagree, but we must share responsibility in mitigating the continuing degradation of Eden.
One final thought: I would be all in favor of requiring a course in world religion for all high school students. It might go a long way toward correcting stereotypes, and fostering a better understanding and respect for the belief systems of others. Such a curriculum would also be the place for discussing Creation tenets.
I welcome your comments, opinions, ideas, and input about the above. I am only one mind, and I have surely overlooked something important here. I am also a novice when it comes to the Bible and all other things religious. Please forgive any inadvertently disrespectful rhetoric. I assure you that I hold everyone in equal contempt. I mean “esteem.”