This week (September 21) in New York City, the United Nations held a summit on climate change. Hundreds of thousands of activists took to the streets urging international leaders to take stronger measures to protect the environment. A wide representation of religious groups participated. Watch scenes from the march and interviews on why people of faith are concerned about climate change, including Rev. Melanie Harris, associate professor at Texas Christian University; Rabbi Lawrence Troster, rabbinic scholar at GreenFaith; Rajwant Singh, president of EcoSikh; Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith; and Du’aa Moharram with the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.
REV. MELANIE L. HARRIS (Texas Christian University): This is a really important time for religious communities to be coming to together and talk about and learn about climate change. I come from Christian tradition whereby we actually have a very, very rich history in environmental justice.
RABBI LAWRENCE TROSTER (GreenFaith): All people of faith agree that protecting creation is an essential part of what we believe. That although God created this wonderful world, it’s not up to us to destroy it, but rather to protect it.
RAJWANT SINGH (EcoSikh): We hope to accomplish that all faiths come together as one to save our commonplace of existence which is mother earth.
REV. FLETCHER HARPER (GreenFaith): The faith community is united. We see people from Evangelicals to Roman Catholics to Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Quakers- everybody altogether around this issue.
DU’AA MOHARRAM (Islamic Society of Central Jersey): Verse 286 of Chapter 2 of my holy book, the Qur’an, uh, states that God sent humans down to earth as bastions of the earth. We are meant to protect it, nurture it, and make sure it is not harmed.
HARRIS: One of the gifts of a lot of religious traditions is that we actually do have a moral imperative for earth justice, to care, and to take care, and to love the planet, to be proper stewards of the planet.
FLETCHER: People of faith care about life. This is an issue about protecting the incredible gift of life that God has given us, and if we don’t act now on climate change, we don’t have a chance to show we really mean business when we say that we care for life.
SINGH: Faiths are the largest organizations, and the oldest organization of mother earth. They have the power, once they realize the potential they have, they can move masses.
MOHARRAM: Climate change is such a broad issue and there’s so many reasons that people get involved so I think it’s useful to have different themes represented and the faith community is definitely a large one.
FLETCHER: Faith communities speak in significant part, with the moral voice of the world and we need to let people know this isn’t just an economic issue. It’s not just a political issue. It’s a profoundly moral issue that we’ve got to respond to.