In an unusual joint effort, a group of eminent scientists and religious leaders meeting in New York recently gave new emphasis to ecological concerns by signing a statement affirming that “the cause of environmental integrity and justice must occupy a position of utmost priority for people of faith.”

Those who signed the five-page statement included the leaders of several mainline Protestant denominations and representatives from the four branches of Judaism. Other signatories included pastor Robert Schuller; Robert Seiple, president of World Vision, U.S.A.; and David McKenna, president of Asbury Theological Seminary.

The meeting culminated a process begun late last year when 34 world-renowned scientists sent an open letter to the religious community. “We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect,” wrote the scientists. “Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred.”

A response from some 300 religious leaders came quickly, welcoming the scientists’ appeal and stating an eagerness “to explore as soon as possible concrete, specific forms of collaboration and action.” Seeking evangelical participation, they contacted Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), which helped organize the New York gathering.

Prophetic Responsibility

The statement asserts that “what God made and beheld as good” is “under assault.” Citing environmental problems such as global warming, ozone depletion, and overpopulation, the religious leaders said they “accept a prophetic responsibility to make known the full dimensions of [the environmental] challenge, and what is required to address it, to the many millions we reach, teach and counsel.”

The statement affirms ...

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