The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘climate change’ tag

Promising Environmental Action, Faiths Rise Together at Religions for the Earth Summit

Parliament Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid commits to ensuring that the forthcoming 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah, will make sustainable living a primary focus. Imam Mujahid speaks here at the Religions for the Earth MultiFaith Service held September 21, International Day of Peace, at Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Commitments by world leaders to address the global environmental crisis voiced at the United Nations Climate Summit were matched with equal passion by the global faith communities participating in Climate Week events. Hundreds of thousands of lay people and spiritual leaders marched, presented programs, and performed community service to raise awareness and upgrade global responses to climate change. Calling for immediate, smart, and cooperative action, the people’s climate movement is working to diminish threats which are slated to produce harsher impacts than the devastating conditions already evidenced by climate change. Parliament Trustees Marching  in the People’s Climate March are pictured from left -Rev. Phyllis Curott, Rev Dr. Anne Benvenuti, and Rev. Andras Corban Arthen. Photo by Dr. Mary Nelson

Nearly half a million people marched to save the only planet we have on the 21st of September at the People’s Climate March in New York City. After exceeding goals to stage the biggest climate march in history, the day ended with an interfaith service packing thousands into the largest Cathedral in the World, St. John the Divine. Leaders spanning the faith traditions of the world vowed there to commit unprecedented action to curb climate change.

In this historic moment the Parliament, in conjunction with partners Green Faith and Interfaith Center of New York, took part in the 3-day Religions for the Earth conference presented by Union Theological Seminary. Organized by Union Forum’s Karenna Gore, daughter of Former U.S. Vice-President and global environmental champion Al Gore, the conference that brought together more than 200 leaders of world spiritual communities and interfaith organizations also leveraged partnerships with the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the National Religious Partnership.

Months of planning and organizing- with Parliament Trustee Dr. Kusumita Pedersen at the core and Trustee John Pawlikowski advising- resulted in a great showing of support from the Parliament Board. Highlighting some of the ways that spirituality as a healing, connecting, and educational force can powerfully address the climate crisis were Rev. Andras Corban Arthen of the Earth Spirit community, who spoke on an Indigenous Peoples panel, Rev. Dr. Anne Benvenuti, author and educator, who discussed the spiritual connection of humans and other animals, and Phyllis Curott, attorney and Wiccan priestess, who led an opening session prayer. Parliament Trustee Emeritus Naresh Jain, who serves currently on the Parliament’s UN Task Force, was also in attendance. The Parliament’s Executive Director, Dr. Mary Nelson, connected with former Vice President Al Gore, as did Parliament Chair, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, who spoke at the closing Multi-faith Service.

Parliament Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson and Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore meet at the Religions for the Earth conference before heading to the largest climate march in history in New York City – the People’s Climate March, September 21.

Dr. Kusumita Pedersen, Parliament Trustee, worked at the core of the organizing and process of the Religions for the Earth conference on behalf of the Parliament. Here she is pictured with Dr. Mary Nelson after the climate march, Photo by Mujahid.


What amplifies the voices of faith communities today is hoped to carry over into massive action at the forthcoming 2015 Parliament. Speaking to the Multi-faith Service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the evening of September 21, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid made a public commitment that the 2015 Parliament will take on climate issues and sustainable living as a prime focus.

Religions for the Earth panel on indigenous traditions; from left to right: François Paulette (Dene – Canada), Mindahi Bastida-Muñoz (Otomí – México), Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga – New York), Andras Corban Arthen, Arvol Looking Horse (Lakota – North Dakota). Photo by Parliament Trustee Phyllis Curott

The Parliament applauds the remarks offered by its partners,  especially those shared by Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson at the Religions for the Earth Multifaith Service. Concerning what spiritual communities who work together harmoniously can achieve, Eliasson said, “Faith leaders like you here today have an essential role to play. You can set an example of dialogue and of mutual respect. You can use your pulpits to convey important messages as we have heard today. You can reach across lines of faiths and across the lines of identities that might otherwise divide people. I ask you, I plead with you to continue to remind us of the ethical and moral dimensions of climate change. Such efforts related to higher morality are needed not only on environment, but in general, at a time when we are seeing so much of sectarian turmoil and hatred around the world. I thank you all for mobilizing the positive power of religion…”

Parliament Trustee Andras Corban Arthen delivers a blessing from the Earth Spirit tradition at the start of the People’s Climate March in New York City, September 21, 2014. Video by Donovan Arthen via Facebook.

Parliament Chair Abdul Malik Mujahid, Former V.P. Al Gore, and National Spiritual Leaders to Conclude Religions for the Earth Conference at Multi-Faith Service in NYC

On Sunday, September 21, Parliament Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid will be speaking at the Religions for the Earth Multifaith Service at New York City’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

Mujahid’s view that “faith leaders must all join hands to save the only planet we have” will come to life at the service featuring a prestigious group of leaders in the religious, spiritual, and Earth-spiritual communities presented in collaboration with Former-Vice President of the United States Al Gore, who is also slated to speak.

Speakers and attendees will be enveloped in celebratory acts of music, performance and ritual all building toward a massive pledge of spiritual communities honoring the sacred environment in real, practical actions.

As a co-sponsor of the Religions for the Earth conference, the Parliament will be connecting with a strategic assembly of 200 other leaders in interfaith, religious, faith and spiritual organizations. Union Theological Seminary is hosting the conference as part of events kicking off NY Climate Week in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Parliament Chair

In Mujahid’s view, the growing commitments faith communities are making to advance environmental protections will see more promising results by applying the influence leaders can have in multiple ways.

Mujahid says, “As more than 40 percent of America listens to pulpits every week, we must not only preach the gospel of sharing more and consuming less. But also, we must do our best to influence the guiding institutions to become more serious in urgently developing the relevant public policies. Better public policies and better consumer behavior both are needed. And this will be a major theme in the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.”

Religions for the Earth Conference attendees will also participate in the biggest climate march in history, The People’s Climate March, expected to unite over 100,000 environmental stewards organizing from across all social institutions on Sunday, September 21. Faith and interfaith representation at the march will climb into the multiple thousands.

Peace activism in general will reach a global high on September 21, which is the United Nations official observance of International Day of Peace, coinciding with satellite climate events taking place all over the world.

The evening Religions for the Earth Multi-Faith Service is open to the public, featuring speakers including:

  • Uncle Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Founder – IceWisdom International, Eskimo, Kalaallit Elder
  • Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota Sioux 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle
  • Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, Founder – Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth
  • Ms. Dekila Chungyalpa, Environmental Advisor to His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
  • Father Edwin Gariguez, General Secretary – Caritas Philippines
  • Former Vice-President Al Gore, Chairman – The Climate Reality Project
  • Reverend Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
  • Reverend Dr. James Kowalski, Director – Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
  • Iriama Margaret Lokawua, Director – Indigenous Women Environmental Conservation Project
  • Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair – Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder – Navdanya
  • Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder – Sojourners
  • Terry Tempest Williams, Writer and Teacher

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 6 p.m. EST

Where: The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

Social Media: Follow the Religions for the Earth conference on Facebook, Twitter, and interact using hashtag #FaithInChange

Religions for the Earth MultiFaith Service is being presented by host Union Theological Seminary, and co-sponsored by the Parliament of the World’s Religions, GreenFaith, Interfaith Center of New York, the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace, and the Cathedral Saint John the Divine.

Parliament Partnering on Climate Conference Hosted by Union Theological Seminary

The Parliament is announcing its partnership to the Union Theological Seminary’s upcoming conference on climate, “Religions for the Earth.”

In a recent Time Magazine article reporting on its plan to divest $108.4 million from fossil fuels, Union announced news of its hosting the climate conference bringing attention to its partnership with the Parliament as well as GreenFaith, the Interfaith Center of New York, The World Council of Churches, and Religions for Peace in coordinating the event.

Choosing to live out their values, Union becomes the first seminary institution to divest from fossil fuels. In this spirit several organizations are coming together in this event to spread dialogue about climate change.

More more information please visit the Religions for the Earth. 

Recovering Ancient Scripture To Face Modern Challenges

by Rabbi Edward Bernstein
from Huffington Post

Having recently moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to South Florida, I am adjusting to a very different climate. The timing of my move was such that I missed experiencing the infamous “Heat Dome” that plagued a large swath of the country this summer. Ironically, while temperatures in Florida were seasonably muggy and hot — in the 90s — temperatures in the Upper Midwest and Northeast soured over 100 for days.

For years, we have heard about climate change occurring as a result of human-produced pollution. Many scientists and commentators have moved away from the term “global warming,” in favor of “climate change,” to account for all kinds of increasingly odd weather patterns throughout the year, such as flooding, tornadoes, blizzards. I happen to like Thomas L. Friedman’s term “Global Weirding.”

Nevertheless, the intense heat of this summer raised concern. Even in Florida, which has been spared (as of this writing) the extreme conditions from up north, things seem different. Long-time Florida residents tell me that it used to rain every afternoon at a predictable time. This summer, rain has not been as predictable. Rain can come at any time or not at all on a given day. Again, it’s weird.

Click here to read the full article

August 25th, 2011 at 10:46 am

Why the Buddha Touched the Earth

Eco-Buddhismby John Stanley and David Loy
from Huffington Post

“The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the Earth. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise — then we can build a noble environment. If our lives are not based on this truth, then we shall perish.” –Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

“The term ‘engaged Buddhism’ was created to restore the true meaning of Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism is simply Buddhism applied in our daily lives. If it’s not engaged, it can’t be called Buddhism. Buddhist practice takes place not only in monasteries, meditation halls and Buddhist institutes, but in whatever situation we find ourselves. Engaged Buddhism means the activities of daily life combined with the practice of mindfulness. –Thich Nhat Hanh

In one of Buddhism’s iconic images, Gautama Buddha sits in meditation with his left palm upright on his lap, while his right hand touches the earth. Demonic forces have tried to unseat him, because their king, Mara, claims that place under the bodhi tree. As they proclaim their leader’s powers, Mara demands that Gautama produce a witness to confirm his spiritual awakening. The Buddha simply touches the earth with his right hand, and the Earth itself immediately responds: “I am your witness.” Mara and his minions vanish. The morning star appears in the sky. This moment of supreme enlightenment is the central experience from which the whole of the Buddhist tradition unfolds.

The great 20th-century Vedantin, Ramana Maharshi said that the Earth is in a constant state of dhyana. The Buddha’s earth-witness mudra (hand position) is a beautiful example of “embodied cognition.” His posture and gesture embody unshakeable self-realization. He does not ask heavenly beings for assistance. Instead, without using any words, the Buddha calls on the Earth to bear witness.

The Earth has observed much more than the Buddha’s awakening. For the last 3 billion years the Earth has borne witness to the evolution of its innumerable life-forms, from unicellular creatures to the extraordinary diversity and complexity of plant and animal life that flourishes today. We not only observe this multiplicity, we are part of it — even as our species continues to damage it. Many biologists predict that half the Earth’s plant and animal species could disappear by the end of this century, on the current growth trajectories of human population, economy and pollution. This sobering fact reminds us that global warming is the primary, but not the only, extraordinary ecological crisis confronting us today.

Click here to read the full article

Religious leaders pressure Australian government on climate change

From the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne News and Views

Twenty-eight religious leaders will converge on Canberra on 2 June to pressure the federal government to act on climate change.  Representatives from many different faiths, acting under the banner of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), will meet with Julia Gillard, Greg Hunt, Andrew Wilkie and around twenty other Members of Parliament.

Bishop George Browning, a member of the delegation, said the time to act is now.  “Our generation has been given humanity’s last chance to avert a climate emergency. Our grandchildren will just have to bear with the results of what we decide to do now,” Bishop Browning said.  Formerly the bishop of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop Browning, who is now the Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said that climate change skeptics were preventing Australia moving in the right direction.  “The naysayers are holding Australia back from taking responsible action with their fear-mongering and misinformation. Not only can we act, we must act.”

Click here to read the full article

For more on the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, please visit their website.

The Israel Forest Fire: Taking Responsibility

by Seth Wax
from State of Formation

Over the past week, the recovery and clean-up of the forest fire in the Carmel region of Northern Israel that charred acres, burned property, and killed 42 people has gotten underway. It’s been particularly interesting for me, having just visited Tel Aviv for the weekend, to witness the ways in which Israelis are organizing en masse to volunteer with helping out. In particular, I visited two synagogues, each of which talked about ways to support the Yemin Orde Youth Village, a center that’s home to more than 500 children, that suffered a loss of over 40% of their buildings during the fire.

Yet alongside the public response to rebuild the affected areas, there has also been a strong drive to find answers for the fire, and in particular, to understand who is responsible for allowing this tragedy to unfold in the way it did.  While police believe they may have identified the person who started the fire, much of the vitriol is being leveled against the government, in particular the ministries of interior and finance, for underfunding and mismanaging the fire and rescue services and not equipping them with the supplies – like the tanker planes that governments across Europe and the US provided – that would have ended the forest fire before it became too big.

But while it may be appropriate to blame the government for negligence, I think that this narrow focus may be a bit short-sighted.

About a week ago, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, attributed the forest fire to Jews’ failure to observe Shabbat properly. While his remarks have an eerie resonance with what Rev. John Hagee said about New Orleans’ permissive attitude toward gay pride causing Hurricane Katrina, reading Rabbi Yosef’s comments got me thinking about what it means to cast a broad net of responsibility when government readiness cannot meet the scale of a natural disaster (even if I think his specific argument is insane). For Ovadia Yosef, the reason why the fire burned in the North was because of Jews’ failure to follow religious commandments, meaning (in the most charitable way I can see it), that the scope of responsibility for the loss of property and life does not lie with just the individuals who set the fire, the government, or the politicians. Many more people share responsibility for this.

Click here to read the full article

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim Discuss Thomas Berry, CPWR

From The Wisdom of the Labyrinth

Acclaimed cultural historian, cosmologist, Passionist priest, and Earth scholar, Thomas Berry, was among the first of our world’s religious leaders to suggest that the earth ecological crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis. Thomas Berry dedicated his life to The Great Work of our time which he described simply as “moving the human community from its present situation as a destructive presence on the planet to a benign or mutually enhancing presence.” Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker and Dr. John Grim, co-founders and co-directors of The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale and The Thomas Berry Foundation, join host Robin Bradley Hansel to share their stories and reflections on Thomas Berry’s life, his work, his writings, and his passionate dream for our Earth community.

Click here to hear the broadcast.

Parabola Magazine Highlights 2009 Parliament

World Religions Get Down to Earth

by Trebbe Johnson

“Sensually, it was a panoply of colorful raiment, ceremonies, liturgies, and languages from around the world.  Spiritually, the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, held December 3-9 in Melbourne, Australia, had the feeling of a quest, or rather thousands of individual quests pursued by people who came together not just to espouse their own beliefs but to explore together how to solve some of the world’s most grievous problems.  “Making a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth” was the theme of this gathering held in the soaring, light-filled Melbourne Convention Center on the bank of the Yarra River, int he ancestral homeland of the aboriginal Wurundjeri people.  For a week, six thousand participants from eighty countries, representing religious and spiritual traditions old and new, shared one another’s worship services; attended 662 talks, panel discussions, and films; and exchanged ideas, prayers, and email addresses.

The first Parliament of World Religions took place in Chicago in 1893, the second not until one hundred years later, again in the Windy City.  Cape Town, Barcelona, and now Melbourne have hosted subsequent gatherings.  Since the beginning, the concept of what the parliament has to offer, and to whom, has changed radically.”

Click here to download the full article (pdf)

Trebbe Johnson is the founder and director of Radical Joy for Hard Times, a non-profit organization devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places. She writes frequently on the relationship of myth, nature, and spirit and is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover: Desire and the Quest for the Beloved. She lives in rural Pennsylvania.

Climate Change and Overconsumption: An Islamic perspective

Speaking at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Imam Afroz Ali presents an Islamic perspective on the issue of climate change and the (over)use of the world’s resources. He questions whether economic models based on growth can be consistent with sustainability and protection of the global environment. Imam Afroz Ali is the Founder and President of the Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development. Melbourne, December 2009.

This program from the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Melbourne is presented in its entirety by Slow TV.