Do Religions Have a Responsibility to be Green?
Earth Day was celebrated earlier this week, and the occasion was marked by the usual eco-friendly messages from various organizations. News outlets ran stories about the environment and the impact we as humans have on it. Businesses that identify as green, like Melaleuca for example, called on humanity to take part in protecting and caring for Mother Earth.
So where do religions fit in when it comes to Earth Day and the overall green movement? What is the relationship between faith and the environment? If your religion requires you to love and serve your god(s), does that include taking care of the world your god(s) created for you? If your religion teaches that murder and sloth are sins, will you be held in judgment in the next life if you neglected the earth to the point of damaging it?
It stands to reason that there are individuals of every religion, as well as non-believers, who identify as environmentalists. There are no doubt believers and un-believers who do not see the need to be green. While it’s ultimately up to each individual to determine how they are going to interact with the world them, religions have a tremendous impact on their followers.
That’s why this blog asks the question: Are there religions out there that make eco-friendly teachings a part of their core doctrines? Are they talking about ways to clean up the earth’s waterways in Sunday School? Are at least some of their service projects centered on environmental well being? Are there local parishes that have a tradition of planting trees on Arbor Day (today)?
This bog doesn’t include answers as much as it does pose questions to the reader. However, let’s just take a look at the Judeo-Christian tradition for a moment. In the book of Genesis, God gives man dominion over the whole earth. God also creates a garden for Adam and Eve and commands them to take care of it. It’s worth pointing out the Hebrew word for dominion means a right to rule but also a responsibility to improve.
Essentially, one of the earliest lessons we can take from the Bible is that mankind was given a beautiful natural world with a mandate to not only use it, but to take care of it and to make it better. Doesn’t that sound like a commandment to be green?