Letter 93 for Day 93: Values & Voices from Earth Day

by Duane Nichols on April 27, 2017

Earth Day Message to the President, VP, Admin. & Congress

From FORREST CLINGERMAN, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Ohio Northern University

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

Greetings on Earth Day!  From its start in 1970, Earth Day has drawn the support of people from all walks of life and every corner of the country. Earth Day is also a time to remember just how closely related environmentalism and religious commitment have been in American history, as John Muir exemplifies. The beauty and fecundity of the landscape we call home is engrained in our national consciousness and celebrated as God’s glorious “handiwork” (Psalm 19:2).  From sea to shining sea, from the Berkshires to the Sierras, from the Great Black Swamp of my part of Ohio to Washington’s Potomac watershed, our natural world is considered a blessing. We are living in a wonderful and divine Book of Nature.

Yet our economy and politics are laying siege to the environment. These are not problems affecting somewhere else, at some other time.  Environmental crises are happening here and now, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable members of our society. Our actions do violence against our human and non-human neighbors and threaten the entire universe.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when we reflect on U.S. climate policy. We are decades past debating the reality of climate change, yet you appointed Scott Pruitt as EPA Director, a person who has ignored the science of climate change. Furthermore, your administration proposed funding cuts for scientific monitoring and environmental research, and you have cut curbs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Assessments like the EPA’s Climate Change Indicators in the United States (2016) show how climate change is already affecting health, safety, the environment, and the economy. Denial of this reality is neither intellectually nor ethically acceptable.

Trust in God requires us to face the truth, however terrifying or inopportune it may be to our plans and our politics. Faith in God means living in hope, working toward what theologian David Klemm and ethicist William Schweiker call “the integrity of life before God” (Religion and the Human Future, 2008). On Earth Day, let us vow to mend our ways and atone for our climate sins. With a sense of hope, let us take seriously our role as stewards of a world once deemed “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Yours sincerely,

Forrest Clingerman
Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy
Ohio Northern University

>>> Forrest Clingerman, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Ohio Northern University, is a specialist in how Christian thought engages environmental issues. As an author of scholarly works in religion and philosophy, he has written on such things as climate change, ecological restoration, local ethics, and appreciating the spiritual meaning of place.  He is co-editor of Teaching Civic Engagement (Oxford University Press, 2016), Theological and Ethical Perspectives on Climate Engineering (Lexington Books, 2016), and Interpreting Nature: The Emerging Field of Environmental Hermeneutics (Fordham University Press, 2014).
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Letter 100 for Day 100 April 29, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Vice President for Academic Affairs,
Associate Professor of Bible,
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
APRIL 29, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

Today is the 100th day of the Trump administration. In Jewish tradition, today is also the eighteenth day of the Counting of the Omer: the 49-day period that stretches from Passover to Shavuot (Pentecost) and reminds us of the uncertain trek from liberation at the Red Sea to revelation at Mount Sinai. Like these first hundred days, the Counting of the Omer is a time of uncertainty, newness, and high expectations. Some contemporary Jews use the omer to focus our attention, one day at a time, on the attributes that we share with God—attributes that enable us, as individuals and communities, to live up to our highest potential and to move toward our highest and holiest aspirations.

In essence, this has been the aim of the 100 letters we have sent you over these past 100 days. We have called you to enact in your leadership the crucial American values that are our greatest strength as a nation. The American Values Religious Voices letter writers provide a snapshot of the America that you have pledged to serve. We are men and women, from red states and blue states. We identify as African-American, Asian, Latinx, Native American, and White. We are Buddhists, Christians of varied denominations, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs. Some of our families have been in this country since before it was “America”; others are immigrants ourselves.

Yet, despite this diversity, our letters call attention to the same values: justice, compassion, protection of the vulnerable, hospitality, equal rights, and respect for all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, or status. Our writers have prayed that you will govern with wisdom and humility, putting the common good above individual concerns. In our diversity, we agree that these are the American values that must guide us as a nation.

After this 100th day, we Americans will stop counting and the American Values Religious Voices letters will end. While the letters and the counting conclude, the call to account will continue. We writers, our readers, and millions of Americans like us insist that you preserve and promote the values that, since our founding, have grounded the American potential for greatness.

Sincerely, Elsie R. Stern
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Associate Professor of Bible
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College


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