Religious People of Color Take on Climate Change in Mississippi

Desert News asked the question: Why do religious people of color care so much about climate change? Simply put, they have to. The answer to this question is actually two-fold, but let's first take a look at the data, to better orient our perspective.

"Compared with 50 percent of all Americans, 73 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 58 percent of black Protestants said they were "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about climate change, far surpassing the anxiety expressed by white mainline Protestants (43 percent), white evangelical Protestants (35 percent) and white Catholics (41 percent), PRRI reported."

As Laurel Kearns, an associate professor of sociology, religion and environmental studies at Drew University explains, "People of color and people who are poor are disproportionately affected" by climate related disasters.

Rev. Charlotte Keys, leader of a predominantly black Protestant congregation in Columbia, Mississippi has been forced to extend community efforts to clear fallen trees and damaged properties in her community, resulting from climate related destruction. Keys admits that, "Our community is vulnerable," a point validated by the Gaurdian's map of regions most affected by climate change, all of which, tend to be areas in which people of color are the majority.

Religious scripture requires us to address climate change for its degradation of God's creation but also for the horrific affects it has on less affluent communities. For more on the matter, checkout ecoAffect's report, American Climate Values 2014: Insights by Racial and Ethnic Groups.

Why Do Religious People of Color Care So Much About Climate Change?

By Kelsey Dallas for Desert News

The Rev. Charlotte Keys breathlessly talks about her involvement in climate change initiatives, both because of her passion for the issue and because of her busy afternoon driving around delivering free meals to volunteers.

Her predominantly black Protestant congregation in Columbia, Mississippi, is helping clean up fallen tree limbs and damaged properties in the wake of a recent tornado — an event she said is directly linked to climate change.

She said air and water pollution is affecting public health and property values throughout her county, and the Rev. Keys considers it her personal mission to empower her congregants and community members to speak up about the ways climate change is affecting them.

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