The coal-fired Castle Gate Power Plant sits idle and is no longer producing electricity outside Helper, Utah on August 3, 2015. Photo by George Frey courtesy of Reuters

Christian leaders call on candidates to address climate change, inequality

The coal-fired Castle Gate Power Plant sits idle and is no longer producing electricity outside Helper, Utah on August 3, 2015. The plant was closed in the Spring of 2015 in anticipation of new EPA regulations. President Barack Obama unveiled on Monday the final version of his Clean Power Plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/George Frey *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-CLIMATE-CANDIDATES, originally transmitted on August 4, 2015.

The coal-fired Castle Gate Power Plant sits idle and is no longer producing electricity outside Helper, Utah, on Monday (Aug. 3, 2015). The plant was closed in the spring of 2015 in anticipation of new EPA regulations. President Obama unveiled on Monday the final version of his Clean Power Plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/George Frey
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-CLIMATE-CANDIDATES, originally transmitted on Aug. 4, 2015.


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

WASHINGTON (RNS) A coalition of Christian leaders issued a statement Tuesday (Aug. 4) calling on presidential candidates to address climate change and economic inequality, in preparation for the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Thursday.

More than 70 evangelical, Protestant and Catholic leaders signed the statement, organized by the group Faith in Public Life, which advocates for the representation of faith communities in politics. Signers include Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant; Jim Winkler, president of the National Council of Churches; and the Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Jim Winkler, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, speaks to journalists during the 2014 Religion Newswriters Association conference in Decatur, Ga., on Sept. 19, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Jim Winkler, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, speaks to journalists during the 2014 Religion Newswriters Association conference in Decatur, Ga., on Sept. 19, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.


READ: The 'Splainer: What is an encyclical?


Quoting Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, "Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home," the statement asks candidates to make this election “a national examination of conscience” by proposing practical steps to amend political and economic systems that contribute to climate change and poverty.

“The same global economic system that puts profit before human dignity leads to the sin of environmental degradation,” the statement says. “Candidates for the most powerful office in the world have a responsibility to clearly articulate plans for addressing two of the most urgent moral challenges of our time.”

Faith in Public Life did not include signers of other faiths, because the statement centers on the pope's encyclical and is intended as an interdenominational Christian address to candidates, a spokesman said. He noted that most of the presidential candidates identify as Christian.

Pope Francis' new encyclical titled "Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home", is displayed during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Pope Francis demanded swift action on Thursday to save the planet from environmental ruin, urging world leaders to hear "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor", plunging the Catholic Church into political controversy over climate change. In the first papal document dedicated to the environment, he calls for "decisive action, here and now," to stop environmental degradation and global warming, squarely backing scientists who say it is mostly man-made. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi  *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENCYCLICAL-FUTURE, originally transmitted on June 18, 2015.

Pope Francis' new encyclical, titled "Laudato Si' (Be Praised): On Care for Our Common Home," is displayed during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Pope Francis demanded swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin, urging world leaders to hear "the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor," plunging the Catholic Church into political controversy over climate change. In the first papal document dedicated to the environment, he calls for "decisive action, here and now," to stop environmental degradation and global warming, squarely backing scientists who say climate change is mostly caused by humans. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENCYCLICAL-FUTURE, originally transmitted on June 18, 2015.


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The statement notes how climate change and economic inequality impact Cleveland, site of the first debate. The statement cites the high infant mortality rate in Cleveland’s surrounding county, northeast Ohio’s pollution problem and the high number of asthma and lead poisoning cases among African-American and Latino children in Ohio’s low-income areas.

Will the statement grab candidates’ attention? Organizers hope so, given the record number of Catholic presidential candidates and the percentage of religious voters in swing states such as Florida and Ohio.


READ: 5 faith facts about Jeb Bush: Catholicism 'resonated with me'


Still, not all candidates are eager to embrace the pope’s encyclical. Candidate Jeb Bush, who is Catholic, has said, “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope.”

Former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.

The statement cites a statistic from the Environmental Protection Agency saying that 70,000 premature American deaths could be prevented by setting a global limit on greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama on Monday unveiled a Clean Power Plan, which will require states to regulate carbon emissions from coal power plants starting in 2017. The Washington, D.C., branch of the Union for Reform Judaism released a statement in support of the plan.

Christian leaders conclude Tuesday's statement with a plea to candidates for “those who identify as people of faith to recognize and act upon our shared responsibility to be stewards of the earth and to build an economy of inclusion. ”

LM/MG END WEISSMAN

Comments

  1. Good luck to all those politicians in not only addressing all those problems but also in solving all of them. We can already see all their records in that regard, which truly speak volumes.

    I will stick to God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44) instead as the only hope for all of us, which will make all of its promises come true (Rev. 21:3,4).

  2. Gee, I wonder if Bush and Rubio will be asked to address the same issues at the SBC thingy this week.

  3. It won’t happen if you didn’t sacrifice a goat every day for the past 42 days while self-flagellating constantly, Fran.

  4. The big money, establishment GOP is already there. Jeb Bush “has made economic opportunity the centerpiece of his message.” Charles Koch just called for “economic opportunity for all Americans especially the least fortunate.”
    “Jeb Bush backed away Wednesday from criticizing Pope Francis on climate change, but he did offer a stronger assertion than many of his Republican presidential rivals that global warming is a threat and that the federal government should address it.” (cruxnow.com)
    “Business, Pentagon pursue climate change strategies” (ncronline.org)
    “120 CEOs Managing 12 Trillion Ask G7 Countries for Bold Climate Action” (dailykos.com)
    The former chairman of Shell remarked on his industry’s “distressing” lack of progress on climate change. (dailykos.com
    “Exxon said Wednesday that it now acknowledges the risk of climate change and does not fund climate change denial groups.” (guardian.com)
    This group is wagging its finger at the inconsequential.

  5. Let the candidates focus on such non issues and they won’t be candidates much longer.

  6. Stop and think for a minute about how messed up this economy is for Americans struggling everyday on part-time incomes, just to make ends meet. It’s the ultimate “damned-if-you-do” / “damned-if-you-don’t” situation. The following statements typify the kind of elitist, political, mass media and religious-driven absurdities people hear:

    1. “You must get a solid, college degree to compete, but stay away from all student debt!”

    2. “Get your creditors paid off by working as much as you can, but remember, your creditors must tell prospective employers that your FICO score disqualifies you for good jobs….and housing too!”

    3. “Give of your time, serve others and cooperate like a great Christian, but if you don’t assert yourself and prove your economic worth, then don’t expect handouts from the congregation. The key axiom for 21st
    century believers is ‘those who do not work enough should not eat!’ Hallelujah, glory to Jayzus.”

    4. “We don’t believe in…

  7. (continued)
    “…evolution, but we DO believe that God’s elect prosper here and into eternity!”

    With statements like these, is it any wonder that the American economic system is on the brink of collapse? Is it any wonder that churches are losing congregations and people who are tired of “no-win” sermons from fat, spoiled TV preachers?

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