Speech: Earth Stewardship

Faith Traditions Unanimous in Support of Earth Stewardship

JimCoffin[Orlando’s City Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution on August 8, 2017, pledging support for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, joining a growing movement of nearly three dozen cities nationwide that have committed to a clean-energy future. Following is the script of a statement of support presented by James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, at the August 8 Commission meeting.]

My name is James Coffin. I’m the executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, which has representatives from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions.

Needless to say, with such diversity, we disagree on many things. But one area of strong agreement is our human responsibility for Earth stewardship.

Baha’i writers declare: “The concepts of world citizenship, prudent stewardship of the earth, and the interconnectedness of all things” constitute “the essence of the Bahá’í Faith.”

Buddhism likewise emphasizes the interconnectedness of all creation, saying: “The health of the whole is inseparably linked to the health of the parts, and the health of the parts is inseparably linked to the health of the whole.”

Christianity’s Roman Catholic Church, speaking for itself but also reflecting the perspective of much of Protestantism, states: “Our tradition calls us to protect the life and dignity of the human person, and it is increasingly clear that this task cannot be separated from the care and defense of all creation.”

Hinduism also recognizes a symbiotic relationship: The Bhagavad-Gita states: “Propitiate the Elements of Nature (Devas) and let the Elements of Nature (Devas) support you. Together, both of you prosper.”

Judaism’s scriptures describe how God instructed Adam and Eve to oversee—literally, to serve—creation. For millennia, rabbinic tradition has supported a general prohibition against wanton destruction, wastefulness and environmental degradation.

The Muslim Quran says that Allah “created everything,” and “it is He who has appointed you guardians on the earth…” In fact, humans will be judged on how well we execute this responsibility, because Allah will “try you in what He has given you.”

Sikhs declare: “A human being needs to derive sustenance from the earth and not deplete, exhaust, pollute, burn or destroy it. . . . An awareness of that sacred relationship between humans and the environment is necessary for the health of our planet, and for our survival.”

Unitarian Universalists state: “All life is interconnected. . . . We care for our environment so that it may sustain life for generations to come . . . because those who are most impacted by environmental destruction are often those with the least power. Creating a sustainable way of life is central to our view of a just and compassionate world.”

Granted such unanimity among the world’s faith traditions, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida wholeheartedly advocates for all government policies and individual actions that support the values just described.

Thus, we strongly support this proposal.

Thank you.