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Monday, July 24, 2006

Bishop of London: It's Sinful to Contribute to Climate Change

The Bishop of London has declared it sinful for people to contribute to climate change by flying on holiday, driving a “gas-guzzling” car or failing to use energy-saving measures in the home, according to the Times of London.

Bishop Richard Chartres will encourage vicars to preach more green sermons and warn congregations that it is now a moral obligation for Christians to lead eco-friendly lifestyles. Chartres, who chairs the bishops’ panel on the environment, said:

“There is now an overriding imperative to walk more lightly upon the earth and we need to make our lifestyle decisions in that light. Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin. Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.”
Chartres, the third most senior bishop in the Church of England, has declared his views as the church prepares to publish Treasures on Earth, a booklet on environmental matters to be sent to every diocese for distribution, the Times reports.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, supported Chartres statement saying:
“We stand before God’s judgment on these matters. In life we have to make moral choices over our sex life and over our domestic and financial affairs. We make choices of moral significance and our relation to the environment is no exception.”
According to the Times, the forthecoming booklet will say that scientific research supporting predictions that the earth faces serious climate change is “overwhelming”. It will also detail practical ways for Christians to cut their carbon emissions, at church and at home, including trying to walk or cycle to communion.

The church’s advisers on the environment say that offsetting your carbon dioxide emissions against “green” actions such as planting trees is a first step towards becoming sustainable but is not a long-term answer.

Under Chartres, the church has commissioned briefings on climate change, plus examples of green sermons, available on the internet, to help vicars master the facts when writing their homilies.

As dean of the chapels royal, Chartres also oversees churches used by the royal family and so is in regular contact with the Queen, the head of the church, and the Prince of Wales, the Times reports. A church spokesman confirmed both had supported Chartres’ initiative.

The church is taking steps to improve its own environmental record and has asked vicars to carry out an energy audit so they can reduce their “carbon footprint”. The church has a bit of a challenge, however, as it owns some of the largest and draughtiest buildings in Britain, including medieval cathedrals, gothic churches and ageing parsonages.

They'll try their best, though. “We have no right to appeal to our contemporaries on this issue if we have failed to put our own house in order,” said Chartres.

Lambeth Palace, Archbishop Williams’ residence, has been audited, for example - and was criticised for using inefficient light bulbs rather than the low-energy alternatives.

Claire Foster, the church’s environment policy director, said: “Indiscriminate use of the earth’s resources must be seen as profoundly wrong, just as we now see slavery as wrong.”

The Church of England is not alone amongst Christian organizations calling on their members to get serious about climate change. Earlier this year, a large coalition of 86 evangelical Christian leaders in the United States decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming as well [see previous post].

Again, as I said after reporting on the coalition of evangelicals, having spiritual leaders stand up and get serious on climate change is great news. These are very influential people whose opinions sway those of thousands of normal folks. To have them throw their support behind climate change mitigation may go along way towards shifting the mindset of Joe and Jane Average towards believing that climate change is a real issue that deserves attention from thair political leaders. After all, it's getting attention from their spiritual leaders.

[A hat tip to Green Car Congress]

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