Treehugger.com, one of the leading websites for environment, sustainability and related material, is running a series called Green Spirit in which Matthew McDermott looks at the environmental views of various of the major world religions and how they’re putting them into practice. So far we’ve had an introduction,Hinduism and Christianity, with Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and some sort of paganism to come, I assume from the artwork.
They’re helpful short introductions to what is believed and well worth reading. Perhaps more usefully they counter widely held views (in the USA certainly) about some religious groups – Christians especially – having no interest in looking after the material world. And they propose religious groups as important in the debate and potential allies which is very helpful to hear from the mainstream secular side of the movement.
Here’s why, from Matt’s introduction:
… we–and I’m speaking now about the environmental community more widely not just my own little corner of it here on TreeHugger–need to recognize the value of religion in creating a more ecologically and socially just future. Before we even get to discussing different spiritual paths’ take on the environment, as a practical matter religion is at the center of hundreds of millions of people’s lives in one way or another.
It is foolish to not tap into this in a public way, encouraging and emphasizing the fact that there is not a major (or minor) faith tradition on the planet that does not speak positively on environmental preservation.
Granted, these values are differently emphasized, differently expressed (and certainly differently applied) in various communities and at different times, but at the core there is not a single path that explicitly endorses pollution, endorses ecological destruction, endorses environmental degradation. Furthermore, as awareness about humans’ environmental impact grows more and more religious groups are actively emphasizing ecological protection and acting on these beliefs in practical ways.
This overlap in mission, belief, and action is too important to ignore. In continuing to sideline the power of faith communities in mobilizing people for environmental protection, the green movement overlooks a potentially huge ally.