The Sierra Club is welcoming a new group to their fold. The list of faith leaders, including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhists Hindus, and many more, now account for nearly one-half of Sierra Club's event attendance. The number of faith leaders joining climate movements has grown drastically in the past two years; increasing involvement sparked after many 'heard the call of Pope Francis,' with leaders in all faith traditions finding motivation in the Papal edict, Laudato Si.
Sierra Club’s Lynda Schneekloth shared, “Now that the pope has said it’s a moral issue, it’s given everybody permission to talk about it.” Pope Francis' inclusive language has contributed greatly to a shift in public opinion that climate change holds a particular moral imperative that transcends religious boundary. Schneekloth finds the recent involvement of religious leaders to be one of the greatest changes the climate movement has experienced in decades, with many faith leaders beginning to explore their respective scriptures for moral guidance on climate change.
T.J. Pignataro | The Buffalo News
Look at any environmental gathering in the Buffalo Niagara region, and you’ll see the usuals: the bird-watchers, hikers, pollution fighters, neighborhood activists and even the granola-eating tree-huggers. ¶ But now others show up in greater numbers, too. ¶ You can thank God for that. Or Yahweh. Even Allah or the Great Spirit. ¶ Environmentalists are making room for priests, nuns, rabbis, imams and others of faith who care about the environment and want to play a role in protecting our water, air and land.
The Sierra Club’s Lynda Schneekloth said the clergy and others with religious backgrounds now account for between a third and a half of those attending local Sierra Club events.
“Two years ago, there wouldn’t have been anybody except for the diehards,” said Schneekloth, chairwoman of the Sierra Club’s Niagara chapter.
Some joined the environmental movement on their own. But others heard the call of Pope Francis, who published his encyclical, “Laudato Si,” last May “on care for our common home.” Environmental justice, specifically addressing global climate change, has become a calling like feeding and clothing the poor, caring for the ill and housing the homeless as moral imperatives for people of faith.