Recent events in America have filled our media and so we asked one of the leaders of faith and the environment there to comment on how the arrival of a new president has affected her work. The Reverend Canon Sally Grover Bingham is an Episcopal priest and Canon for the Environment in the Diocese of California, has been active in the environmental community over 30 years. She is founder and president of the The Regeneration Project, which is focused on its Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) campaign, a religious response to climate change with a national network of more than 18,000 congregations in 40 states.
The Rev. Bingham has brought widespread recognition to the link between faith and the environment, and as one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize global warming as a moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship and advocacy. She has been named one of the top fifteen green religious leaders by Grist magazine, has been recognized as a Climate Hero by Yes! Magazine, featured as a leader of the new green revolution in Rolling Stone and one of the 50 most powerful women religious leaders by the Huffington Post.
In the entire history of Interfaith Power and Light Campaign, there has never been such inquiry as to “what are you going to do and what can I do?” In the 20 years that I have been involved with care for Creation though The Regeneration Project and climate change through our Interfaith Power and Light campaign, I have never had to answer so many questions about the future of our ministry and the planet.
This has all come on with rapid urgency as more and more people of faith are becoming aware that the values and issues we uphold and care about are now threatened. The new US administration has said that it will roll back rules and in some cases laws that were laid down to protect our health, our air and our water. The new administration is planning to resurrect the coal industry and build pipelines that will carry the dirtiest form of oil under our rivers and though the sacred land of our native Americans. Little wonder we are outraged. We have spent the last 20 years working to protect the poor and vulnerable among us and around the world who have been harmed by pollution from burning fossil fuels. The leadership in Washington has called climate change “a hoax” when all scientific evidence is to the contrary. The times are dark for people who care about and work for saving Creation and a healthy planet earth.
People of faith who have taken the responsibility for stewardship of our natural resources are in many ways taking what is happening in our country even harder than others. For us our theology and faith traditions (all mainstream tradition) call us to care for the natural world. God put us here to love our neighbors and to be gardeners of the Creation. If we love our neighbors and love God, this is an obligation.
Thus there will be no letting up on the work we do. We will be working harder and digging deeper into our resources. Our congregations, all 18,000 of them, will continue to cut emissions and lead congregants to do the same. We will continue to help solarize buildings and homes and we will promote renewable energy at the state level. We will lead by example.
We will argue to keep the US in the Paris Agreement, but if we fail and the US backs out of its promise, we at IPL will continue with the Paris Pledge. This is a program that we created and presented in Paris showing the governments of the world that no matter what they did, the American faith community was committed to 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and 50% reduction by 2050. We are on the road to do that and show that it is possible without much effort.
Many of our IPL state affiliated leaders have developed relationships with their legislators. They are having meetings and discussion about moral responsibility to the generations that come after us. We are not patrician in our positions. We are theological and plan to make climate change a moral issue and NOT a political one.
The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham
President of Interfaith Power and Light www.interfaithpowerandlight.org