More than 130 Iowa religious leaders and clergy have signed a statement calling climate change “one of the most pressing moral challenges facing our world today.”
They say carbon pollution is an environmental justice issue, because power plants have historically been located near low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and agricultural communities. They want local, state, national and international leaders to form policies and strategies that promote sustainable energy use.
"We Christians talk about the Kingdom of God, as if it’s a place we call heaven. I think that has led some Christians not to care about the earth, but care about heaven. But biblically that kingdom is here on earth," says Reverend Doctor Beverlee Bell, the the senior minister at Urbandale's Walnut Hills United Methodist Church. "When we hurt the earth, we are hurting God's kingdom. When we hurt people around the world, we are hurting God's children."
Bishop Richard Pates of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines says that Pope Francis teaches that all of creation is a gift, so people should remember they are stewards and not owners of the earth.
"The pope points out that we’ve really hit a low point also. That the earth is changing into one huge dump," he says. "We’re taking all the material benefits, using up the earth, using up the goods of the earth, and creating a lack of what is essential for some of our people."
The statement was written by Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, a Des Moines-based organization that works with people of faith on climate change issues. IPL says signatories come from 95 Iowa congregations or organizations, and includes 15 different religious traditions.