Described as one of the world’s largest science conferences, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science may seem an unlikely pulpit for an Episcopal priest to attend on a Sunday morning. But that is where the Rev. Fletcher Harper offered his message this past weekend.
The Rev. Fletcher Harper preached on climate change, and how to get a vast segment of the world’s population to pay better attention to what scientists know but many others doubt: that the problem is worsening and portends disaster.
“My entreaty for scientists is to be able to speak publicly about why you care,” said Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, an interfaith nonprofit that aims to galvanize religious people to safeguard the environment.
“It’s vital not to soft-pedal the dangers that we face. … A great deal is at stake.”
Harper was one of a panel discussing how to “leverage religious support” for climate change policy.
Invoke the environment as a gift — the religious response to a gift is gratitude, but also responsibility, said Harper.
Then, he said, talk about the world as “out of balance.”
“That kind of metaphor is most familiar to people who are practitioners of the dharmic traditions (such as Hinduism and Buddhism), but it also resonates very consistently through Muslim teachings and writings and it resonates certainly for Christians and Jews.”
Other panelists pointed out that around three-quarters of Americans are “people of faith,” and that faith communities already have the infrastructure to organize and to promote civic engagement with scientific issues, making them ideal allies in the struggle to address climate change.