More and more Christians believe that concern for climate change is inferred by their faith, since it is a natural outgrowth of caring for the environment and the world’s poor. Excerpted below is part of an excellent new discussion paper, “Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Climate,” thoughtfully prepared by Christians working with the National Association of Evangelicals.
God calls for us to care for those who are poor, vulnerable and oppressed. It is the Christian thing to do.
While others debate the science and politics of climate change, my thoughts go to poor people who are neither scientists nor politicians. They will never study carbon dioxide in the air or acidification of the ocean. But they will suffer from dry wells in the Sahel of Africa and floods along the coasts of Bangladesh. Their crops will fail while our supermarkets are full. They will suffer while we study.
At the National Association of Evangelicals, we asked some of our Christian sisters and brothers to share the knowledge and experience regarding the effects of a changing environment on the poor. Our goal was to write a document useful to the evangelical community, pastors and laypeople. This is not an official policy statement of the NAE or its Board of Directors. Rather, it is a conversation piece. It is a call to care, to understand, to respond.
Their words were collected into one document that was reviewed by two dozen Bible scholars, professors, and evangelical leaders—we wanted the thinking of the many and not just of a few.
These inspiring words were written by Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Leith recently retired from the senior pastor position at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota (where he served as former Governor Tim Pawlenty’s pastor).
I had the pleasure of working with Leith and 54 other Minnesotans on the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, which recommended a climate action plan in 2008 to meet Minnesota’s science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals.
“Loving the Least of These” is based on the idea that “environmental changes, including more severe natural disasters, threaten the lives and well-being of more and more people, and particularly the extreme poor,” and addresses questions that the evangelical community may have in “considering how to respond to the biblical mandates to care for creation and for the poor,” including:
- What is climate change?
- What does it mean for the poor?
- What should Christians do?
Christopher Shore, the director of environmental and climate issues at World Vision International, says in the final pages: “The last thing most people living in poverty need is climate change….Climate change is making the fight against poverty much harder.”
In the afterword, Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, talks about her firsthand experiences with the impacts of climate change in Haiti and Zambia. She concludes: “Yes, climate change is happening. While we debate the causes of climate change, people are dying from its effects.”
Please share “Loving the Least of These” with your Christian family, friends, and neighbors.