Faith-based organisations’ diminishing role in fighting climate injustices

The faith-based footprints in moral modelling, modifications and transformations have never been doubted ever since. Anthropogenic climate change is human-induced and the role of the human hand and its activities in the climate change discourse is a cause for concern, for humanity’s safety and environmental sanctity. Because of the eco-freak activities and trigger happy behaviours, the environment has been sufficiently polluted, degraded, manipulated and poisoned, sad enough it has degenerated into a biocide.

The role and charge of faith-based organisations (FBOs) to enforce individual and collective climate ethics is quite paramount, thereby regulating the humans’ insatiable appetite and lust for treasure, compounded by greed, self-centredness and loss of conscience too. But the church, as an institution of faith, moral indebtedness and uprightness, as well as the bedrock and foundation on which ethical considerations and the universal oughts’ are premised, has been dominated and overshadowed by the scientific discourse in articulating issues of global warming. The church is expected to propagate the gospel of climate change in the same vibrant ways that it uses when championing the religious doctrines.

In this discussion, as you shall find out, the omission of biblical or Koranic verses or any other religion is deliberate because the FBOs are quite diverse and they need to be respected. But whatever their differences and world views, they all believe in the presence of the one and only supreme God.

The basic chronology of the earth’s history, recognises the bible as the major reference guide, and its narration that, in six — 24-hour days, around
6 000 years ago, the earth was created, requires basic, surface and literal interpretations rather than technical and complex scientific ones. The reason being that, the earth’s science will, first and foremost, forever contradict the bible, including any other faith-based books. A closer analysis would reveal that, the role of science has been instrumental in accelerating technological beliefs and developments, in such a way that, instead of worshiping God and respecting nature, people are worshipping money and technological advancement.

The scientific communities of practice also need to be reminded that they are a product of creation — 100% — and they thrive in drawing their innovations from God’s finished product, which is the earth, while they are also finished products of God’s splendid work, having been themselves created in the image of God.
As such, Christians and other FBOs still have a fundamental role to play in the fight against climate change impacts, hence, they should not appear silenced or overpowered by the scientific discourse communities.

This is not an attempt to drive a wedge between the two communities of practice, but just to simply demonstrate that they need each other and together, they can shape the environment which they desire for future generations. No one disputes the scientific achievements and contributions, but faith-based institutions, have transformative roles to play as well.

Judging by the numbers of faith-based multitudes around the world, heroes of faith are capable of coming up with life-saving environmental sustainable measures that not only inspired, but inclusive as well. A deeper analysis would unearth that what drives global warming is humanity’s insatiable desire to amass wealth, dominate others, showing power and influence, self-enrichment, vanity and narcissism or death of conscience, among others, all driven by moral decadence, greed and inflated egos. The FBOs, despite creeping and inherent human error, their practices are morally and ethically driven.

Their teachings are quite diverse and human-centred, wide enough to tame the eco-freaky human actions, attitudes, in appropriate language use and misdirected aspirations which have contributed to the current environmental degeneration.

Faith-based practitioners, through their extensive and broad networks of ecumenical works, have immeasurable potential of saving the environment and restore its former splendour through their unwavering stewardship. A variety of faith-based defenders of the environment need to be visible, engaging and inclusive, while their fight against global warming need to be transformative and result-oriented because with God’s help, they can stop the rot and unethical practices in the environment. This does not mean that faith-driven organisations are blind to the scientific evidence on climate change and its potential risks, but they will be complementing one another’s environmental efforts.

The faith-based moral convictions, will and spirit demands everyone’s responses to the climate change problem because the biblical view of humans as stewards of the earth should be upheld, respected and fortified. Furthermore, the current unfolding evidence of climate change impacts demonstrate humanity’s failures in exercising true stewardship, the industrialised countries and multinational corporations included.

These wealth amassing countries and institution are carbon sinners, first and foremost and they have committed one of the biggest social sins in human history, which is global warming. This has also lead to irrational destruction of the environment and mortgaging of the natural resources in developing countries.

The massive clearing of bushes for mining ventures, both illegal and legal, have seen the release of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere as well as forests shrinking, rivers drying up, water reservoirs disappearing, rainfall patterns receding, hunger and famine taking their toll.

It is not only Christians who can lead sustainable life-styles and eco-conscious practices, but everyone else. So, inasmuch as we would want to fight climate change collectively, we need to note that we are human beings, above everything else, we are cultural and we are morally and ethically context specific. That is why the FBOs are critical and that is their point of entry. This is important because arresting the climate change challenges should be viewed and interpreted in the context of a just world.

In this regard, the faith-based discourse communities have not only the gift of stewardship, but sometimes, the gift of prophecy as well. This strengthens and transforms the view that humanity’s relationship with nature should be of ethical and moral concern. While everyone has the responsibility of safeguarding nature, the faith-based voices should not remain backgrounded because the state of the environment is degenerating into a biocide with each day passing. For these reasons and many others, nature cannot continue to be down trodden, manipulated, poisoned and taken advantage of. The human being is the only morally equipped and ethically endowed individual with responsibilities for both the human kind and nature, incorporating non-human living creatures as well, in order to safeguard the ecosystem environments.

Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on:

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