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Bishops send Trump a prayerful message about his EPA pick

Bishops send Trump a prayerful message about his EPA pick

The Episcopal bishops in Massachusetts have written to President-Elect Donald Trump, reminding him that while Episcopal congregations pray regularly for our national leaders, we also pray for the environment and the earth. As those who “respect the facts of science,” they expressed serious concerns over the selection of Scott Pruitt, “a person who has consistently and adamantly opposed all laws and policies that provide even minimal ‘protection’ to the environment,” to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We will pray for a better choice,” the bishops write.

The full text of the letter follows.

Dec. 12, 2016

Donald J. Trump
President-Elect of the United States of America
Trump Tower
735 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Dear President-Elect Trump,

We, the bishops of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts, are glad to let you know that all of our 235 churches pray for you regularly in our liturgies with these or similar words: “For those in positions of public trust, especially Barack our President and Donald our President-Elect, that they may serve justice, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”

We also pray: “Give us reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory.”

The Episcopal Church stands strongly for the protection of the environment. We respect the facts of science.  We support laws and policies that address the reality of climate change. We are in the process of divesting our financial interest in fossil fuels. Most recently our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, joined Native Americans at Standing Rock in their effort to protect their water and their sacred land. Numerous other Episcopal Church leaders have likewise traveled to Standing Rock.

Our respect for our government leaders and our reverence for the earth as God’s creation impel us to write you to express our dismay about your selection of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. We wonder why a person who has consistently and adamantly opposed all laws and policies that provide even minimal “protection” to the environment should be entrusted with leading such an agency.

President-elect Trump, you have promised economic development. Like you, we value a stable and prosperous economy.  However, a thriving economy depends on a healthy environment. The more we weaken and dismantle the E.P.A.’s vital protections of our natural world, the more we threaten the common good.

You have also promised to strengthen our national defense. Like you, we value national security.  However, our country’s top military intelligence have concluded that climate change is a “threat multiplier” that is already creating instability around the world and will likely create significant security challenges in the years ahead.  If someone who casts doubt on the reality of climate change becomes the head of the E.P.A., our national security will be compromised.

As citizens of this beloved country, we intend to write our members of Congress, urging them to block the nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the E.P.A. We will pray for a better choice.

And we will continue to pray for you as you assume this office of tremendous responsibility for the good of all.

Respectfully,

The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop Diocesan of Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop Diocesan of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts (retired)
The Rt. Rev. Roy F. Cederholm, Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts (retired)

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Kenneth Knapp

We can all read our politics into the Bible, but that doesn't make your politics my religion.

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Clark West

Mr. Knapp suggests holding a Bible in one hand and a mirror in the other. But of course the scriptures are already a mirror, as the epistle of James indicates. (1:23-24) Which makes Mr. Knapp's suggested image an exercise in overabundant narcissism at best, or a horror house of mirrors at worst, in which clarity is occluded ad infinitum. And a closer reading of James would also suggest that it is not possible for the Christian to avoid politics.

And the idea that Jesus submitted to the authorities beggars belief. If he was so eager to submit, why in the world was he strung up? The Romans weren't stupid enough create martyrs for no reason, knowing the risks to their political stability. They craved submission and had they gotten it from Jesus, they would have told the local leaders to deal with it themselves.

No, Jesus submitted, but to the strictures of his loving Father, not to the Romans, who were a cruel and tyrannical power that in no way had God's imprimatur. One could not be a follower of the God of Israel and loyal to that demonic idol. Conflict was the only way to remain faithful.

And as for the church fathers having nothing political in them, I fear the hall of mirrors in is in full effect. Just a glance at Athanasius' many troubles gives the lie to the falsehood being perpetrated.

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Kenneth Knapp

Also, Athanasius was not an Ante Nicene Father.

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Poppy St.John

"May God always impart our leader with the courage to become a blessing to all the people of the world now and forevermore ."

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Kenneth Knapp

You and I see the world very differently. I am currently reading the Ante Nicene Fathers. There is no mention of politics, because Jesus was not some sort of Aramaic speaking Che Guevera (despite the assertions of some pseudo scholars who write books for the popular Christianity genre) and the early church had absolutely no political influence or power. That doesn't come until the church converts to Constantine in 313. Money, sex, and politics are the three biggest temptations to idolatry. I would be very happy if our clergy didn't try to make their fetish for politics into my religion.

My quotation of the BCP was only to point out that it contradicts the words of Jesus. Jesus was a radical pacifist. Radical pacifism is incompatible with using the power of government to compel people to behave the way you think they should.

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Marshall Scott

Brother Knapp, I would suggest that the Gospel of Luke suggests Jesus expressing a priority for the poor, and a clear call to challenge principalities and powers, both spiritual and temporal. I would quibble a bit with Brother Norman only in this: as a priest I try to bracket when I express my political opinion (not that folks don't know from other settings). I do think it's important that we challenge one another to consider deeply just how we are called to live the Gospel in the world, including in our political decisions and advocacy.

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Kenneth Knapp

You are not the only priest who reads his politics into the Gospel of Luke.

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Norman Hutchinson

Mr. Knapp,
In the quote about the separation of church and state note that the second part says, "It does not keep religion from influencing the state." The bishops are expressing concern for the enviroment and are using religion to influence the state. As early as Genesis God gives humanity charge and care for the Earth. Protesting against an official who would severely harm the earth, in our day and time, fulfills that mandate.

You quote the Book of Common Prayer as saying, "Will you persevere in resisting evil...?" The people respond, "I will, with God's help." This seems like activism and resisting the evil of destroying the Earth fits into this concept.

Matthew 5:39 is addressing personal revenge and speaking against it; it is not addressing the evil of a state. "But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you." (CEV)

It is often said that we are God's hands and feet. We are often also God's voice when we speak out against evil.

I would be disappointed with our clergy if they did not express their political opinion when they are addressing evil.

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