In a rare interfaith effort, Australian Baptists joined other faith leaders in a letter calling for action by the federal government on climate change.
The National Council of the Baptist Union of Australia overwhelmingly endorsed an open letter calling on Australia to “take quick and decisive action” to reduce the nation’s rising emissions of greenhouse gases.
Six Australian leaders added their signatures to the letter.
“It is unusual for Australian Baptists to join with leaders of other religions in expressions of co-belligerence, but on climate change action this has been possible,” said Rod Benson, a Baptist ethicist and signatory.
“We believe that time is running out for the many communities across the globe who are already suffering from the devastating effects of climate change, including in the small island nations and low lying areas of the Pacific region,” the letter said. “We recognize that livelihoods, communities and cultures in the Pacific are increasingly threatened by extreme weather events and sea level rise, foreshadowing what is to come if concerted action is not taken. The future impact of unabated climate change on families, communities and all other life will be significant.”
As the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the Pacific, the religious leaders said, Australia “bears a disproportionate historical responsibility for this grave situation.”
In addition to calling on the government to develop policies to combat climate change, the religious leaders committed themselves to “work for ecologically responsible and sustainable living in our faith communities; listen to, support, and advocate for our partners in the Pacific and in other communities worldwide which are already affected by climate change; and advocate towards all sectors of society to intensify cooperation in response to climate change.”
“We are one human family and one creation,” the religious leaders said. “Our future is shared, and can only be assured by living together in love and respect for each other and for the earth. We ask all Australians to join us in praying and working for this goal.”
The Baptist World Alliance General Council adopted a resolution July 25 calling on Baptist leaders to “strongly support and encourage government, corporate and community initiatives to address the causes of human-induced climate change.”
Those actions include “greater use of renewable energy technologies; caps on greenhouse gas emissions; carbon trading; greater use of ‘green’ architecture, town planning and transport; and encouragement to conserve, reuse and recycle goods.”
The resolution confessed “that humans have often denied or ignored our interdependence with creation and abrogated our stewardship of creation, resulting in misuse of the earth’s resources, environmental degradation, and damage to ecosystems” and recognized “our failure as Baptists to engage with these issues in an adequate and timely manner.”
Other Australian Baptists signing the letter were Ross Clifford, president of Baptist Union of Australia; Ken Clendinning, director of ministry support and development for the Baptist Union of NSW; Alan Marr, director of ministries for the Baptist Union of Victoria; Trevor Spicer, treasurer of the Baptist Union of Australia; and Brian Winslade, national director of the Baptist Union of Australia.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.