Over 200 scientists identifying as evangelical Christians signed a letter that was released today calling on Congress to pass meaningful legislation to address climate change. This is remarkable evidence that science and religion should be seen as complementary. As Dr. John Roe and others have pointed out, "many see science itself as an integral part of God's plan for the world." The evangelical climate change letter is part of Sojourners' creation care campaign, which calls on our moral obligation to care for God's creation.
I've been thinking more and more about the term "creation care" since I attended the National Mobilizing Circle training at Sojourners last summer where we had invigorating discussions about climate change and environmental justice. More recently, I've started thinking about creation care from a Franciscan perspective. Through the eyes of St. Francis of Assisi, the divine is found in all of creation, and we all exist in interdependence with the rest of creation. Using this rationale, human beings not above or below the other parts of creation - the land, the oceans, the plants, and the animals. And as Lisa Sharon Harper has pointed out, the Hebrew words of Genesis 1 tell us that it is the ties between things that are "forcefully good." If we live in right relationship with the rest of creation, there is justice and peace in the world. But when we don't live in right relationship with the world, injustices abound, and the health of people and the earth suffers.
If you're not yet completely sold on the idea of our absolute interdependence with the rest of creation, perhaps some discussion would help. Through the leadership of 200 evangelical scientists, we've established the scientific underpinnings of climate change are real and this constitutes a moral imperative to care for creation. And the industrial food system is intricately connected with climate change, as I've demonstrated here. The industrial food system is also connected to such injustices as hunger and health issues, with a billion hungry and a billion overweight people in the world. Most of these people suffer because they can't afford healthy food to nourish their bodies. This results from economic injustices such as a failure to pay workers living wages which would allow them to afford the food they need to live a healthy lifestyle. Plus, many of the world's hungry are actually the farmers who grow our food; because of corrupt governments and corporate agreements, land is pulled out from under people all the time through land grabs, thereby exacerbating food security issues. And when people can't afford food and don't have access to the land and water needed to grow food, turmoil and war often results, leading to more unnecessary casualties. On the flipside, people who only have access to nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods tend to develop diet-related diseases which wind up costing us billions of dollars in healthcare - unnecessary costs which drain our wallets and exhaust our economy.
So when it comes down to it, when we don't care for the earth and each other and nourish ourselves with the exquisite bounty that our Creator has provided for us, we destroy our health and the earth's health, and it leads to a mess of social injustices which exacerbate the health issues. But when we learn to see ourselves as part of creation that needs to be cared for and create the conditions and supportive environments in which people can lead healthy lives, we can impact the social determinants of health and improve the health of all of creation.