Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update July 8, 2024

Climate Crisis

The reality of global warming and climate catastrophes can trigger feelings of depression and despair, but spiritual writers and leaders are advocating for action as an antidote. Many are encouraging people to engage in any form of activism to improve mental and spiritual health and maintain hope.

Faith of any kind can be a guiding force for people. Here are five reasons why people of faith can be powerful advocates for a livable planet:

  1. Global Religious Influence: With 85% of the world's population identifying with a religion, faith communities hold significant sway.
  2. Historical Activism: Faith communities have historically driven major social and environmental movements.
  3. Concern for Climate and Nature: Religious leaders and communities have increasingly recognized the moral imperative to address climate change. 
  4. Active Environmental Involvement: Faith-based organizations actively engage in environmental protection through advocacy, education, and direct action. 
  5. Spiritual Values for Environmentalism: Shared values across religions, such as stewardship, justice, and compassion, drive environmental protection efforts. 

A climate change march with interfaith participants in Vatican City in 2015. © Mat McDermott / GreenFaith / CC BY-NC-ND image caption here (optional)

Last September, thousands of youth activists, including Elsa Barron, a climate researcher and Evangelical Christian, protested in Manhattan to call for the end of fossil fuel use. Barron, 24, aims to change her church's skepticism about climate change, citing Biblical passages to encourage environmental stewardship. Barron and others like Galen Carey of the National Association of Evangelicals advocate for environmental action on a biblical basis. 

Acknowledging The Past

A new report titled “Slavery in the Historic Archdiocese of St. Louis” reveals that the first three bishops of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, along with 11 diocesan priests and seven other clergymen, enslaved a total of 99 individuals in the 19th century. This number includes 44 people enslaved by diocesan bishops and clergy, and the rest by clergy of religious orders. 

The report aims to promote understanding, healing, and dialogue regarding the church’s historical role in slavery as part of the “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” project. 

Pupils at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, circa 1900. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Native American children were forcibly taken to residential schools run by the government and various religious denominations, including the Episcopal Church. These schools aimed to assimilate Indigenous children into European American culture by prohibiting their native languages, clothing, and customs, resulting in widespread trauma and death.

The Episcopal Church, which operated at least 34 such schools, has begun addressing its role in this history. Last June, the church allocated $2 million for a truth-seeking process to document the impact of Episcopal-run schools on Native American communities. 

Recovery and Preservation

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Harlem African Burial Ground Initiative (HAGBI), and the Harlem community have commenced the next phase of archaeological work at the former 126th Street Bus Depot in East Harlem to honor African descendants buried there. The project involves the respectful recovery of human remains. The project will address community needs with over 600 housing units, mostly income-restricted, and includes commercial and community spaces and is part of Mayor Adams' “24 in 24” plan to create or preserve over 12,000 housing units.  

NYCEDC, Harlem African Burial Ground Initiative and Harlem Community Come Together to Pay Respect at the Harlem African Burial Ground. Photo from NYCEDC 

In downtown Temple, an innovative housing development project has revitalized 5th Street while preserving the historic neighborhood's charm. To maintain the area's architectural aesthetics, the city proposed a design adaptation. This collaborative approach in design and funding ensured the project's success, blending historic charm with quality, affordable housing for residents.

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