A group of evangelical Christians are organizing, demonstrating, and praying for action on climate change in North Carolina this week, bringing an unusual, faith-focused, “pro-life” brand of environmentalism to the Tar Heel State.
On Tuesday, a group of evangelical Christians gathered for a prayer breakfast at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, which takes its name from the famous American evangelist. According to Rachel Lamb, national organizer and spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), the event came about as a partnership with the Lausanne Movement, an evangelical organization inspired by Graham in the 1970s. She told ThinkProgress the gathering centered around a “Creation Care” liturgy that connected environmentalism with the Biblical call to care for God’s creation.
“We had a prayer of repentance, recognizing that we have participated in degrading creation,” Lamb said. “Then we had prayers for those most impacted by climate change, and also spent some time praying for our political leaders, hoping that they would take bold, courageous action — that people on both sides of the aisle will continue to recognize that climate change impacts us, here, and our generation disproportionately.”
“[Hayhoe] reflected on her own perspective on how she integrates her faith with her work, and thinks it’s so important that evangelicals are leading the way for climate action,” Lamb said, noting that Hayhoe also cited climate change as evidence of broken relationships between people and creation itself.
Lamb explained that the gathering, along with a similar event later Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Asheville, is partly a celebration of the Global Day of Prayer for Climate Action, an international campaign created last year to capitalize off the energy created by the historic 2015 climate-focused talks in Paris, France. The event hopes to invigorate the evangelical community to match the efforts of other faith groups that have voiced firm support for taking action on climate change, such as mainline Protestant Christians, renowned Muslim scholars, and Pope Francis himself.
But this week’s religious activism also has a far more localized goal: helping build energy around climate change legislation in North Carolina. The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), another sponsor of Tuesday’s prayer breakfast, announced a petition signed by 15,000 self-identified evangelicals in North Carolina that demands a “pro-life” energy plan and calling for clean electricity in the state by 2030.
“As a pro-life Christian, I believe pollution harms the unborn, causing damage that lasts a lifetime,” the petition reads. “Dirty water and air have serious consequences for the health of our children and other vulnerable populations, like the elderly. So, I ask Governor McCrory and other elected officials to support a plan for clean electricity that will: free our children from pollution by relying entirely on clean electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar by 2030; defend our freedom to create our own electricity from sunshine, without fees championed by monopolistic utilities; free our communities from regulations that prevent us from joining together to create our own electricity; and free businesses from such regulations so that they, too, can create and sell clean electricity.”
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