Resources
Press releases
News archive
Selected books
Downloads
 
ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

Sierra Club director pledges for first time to work with religions

October 29, 2007:

The "Green Patriarch". PHOTO: Nikolaos Manginas

The head of the influential Sierra Club in the United States last month expressed a new commitment to working with the religions, which as he explained, represented a complete turnaround in the group's thinking.

"I was part of the generation that made the choice – the horrendous strategic blunder – of situating ourselves outside the institutions of faith," Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club – America’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organisation with around 1.3 million members - told the Christian Science Monitor.

“Now we have a chance to repent of, and reform from that error."

He was speaking at interfaith rally for climate change held by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on board a boat sailing down the coast of Greenland where the ice is rapidly disappearing. It was an event which Mr Pope said was indicative of progress being made to bridge the divide between environmentalism and faith.

"I was part of the generation that made the choice – the horrendous strategic blunder – of situating ourselves outside the institutions of faith... Now we have a chance to repent of, and reform from that error." Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.
During that rally, in the shadow of great melting glaciers, leaders from the Sunni, Shiite, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Shinto faith traditions committed themselves to leave the planet "in all its wisdom and beauty to the generations to come."

Religious participants included René-Samuel Sirat, the Grand Rabbi of Paris, Bishop Sofie Petersen of Greenland, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, and the Rev. Jim Ball, founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network, with the meeting also attended by Princess Irene of Denmark, Greenland foreign minister Aleqa Hammond, and over 100 dignitaries, scientists, other clergy, and journalists. Link here for the full story.

Patriarch Bartholomew is the senior-most figure in Orthodox Christianity, widely known as the Green Patriarch. ARC has worked with him for many years on Orthodox environmental projects. He has run shipboard symposiums between religious, scientific and political leaders in many environmental hotspots including the Amazon, the Black Sea and the Danube.

The Sierra Club, in 2008, launched a document called Faith in Action giving examples from all US states of faith-initiated environmental actitivies. Link here for more information and to download the book.
He has declared the destruction of nature a sin, and in 2002 signed a joint declaration on the environment with the late Pope John Paul II.

The onboard forum is designed to focus global attention on climate change, whose effects can be seen most dramatically in Greenland, most scientists agree.

"Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development, and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family," said Bartholomew.

According to the Monitor’s correspondent Colin Woodard, the Ilulissat glacier in west-central Greenland, 155 miles above the Arctic Circle, was a poignant choice of settings.

“The glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is massive: three miles wide and nearly one mile tall. It is also disappearing at a remarkable rate, having receded by nine miles over the past four years. Its ice is flowing at a rate of nearly seven feet an hour, nearly three times the rate of just five years ago.”


Links

Founder of Sierra Club John Muir saw nature as the most holy book of all
Link here for a story about John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who found his religious experiences in nature, rebelling against his father's strict influence - for the partial background on why the organisation has taken so long to engage with the faiths.

Link here to learn more about the Ecumenical Patriarch's belief about caring for the seas.

Link here for a story about the Ecumenical Patriarch urging people of all faiths to pay more attention to investments.

Link here for an Orthodox statement about the environment.

In 2008 the Sierra Club launched an inspiring document called Faith in Action giving examples from all US states of faith-initiated environmental actitivies. Link here for more information and to download the book.



< previous 
ARC site map
ARC, 6 Gay Street, Bath BA1 2PH, UK
tel +44 (0)1225 758 004
 
Related pages

How does ARC work with the faiths?
We list some of the far-reaching ways that faiths can affect their environment
What is a Sacred Gift?
Every religion believes the gift of life itself is sacred. This shared understanding led WWF and ARC to create a special term of recognition for significant new projects.
1 September, 2008:
Church of England's Guide Aims to Reduce Carbon Footprint
To mark the beginning of the six week Christian Creationtide festival of environmental awareness, the Church of England has published a new guide entitled "Don't Stop at the Lights". Creationtide continues until October 4.