Stand Up for the Earth: Affirm the Paris Agreement

The Temple of Understanding, one of the oldest interfaith organizations in North America, stands with our many partners, the Parliament of World Religions, faith leaders of all traditions, corporations, universities and concerned citizens in condemning President’s Trump’s unconscionable action pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  We will continue to work towards a sustainable future in our towns and cities regardless of the lack of support from our misinformed US government leadership. 

Show your support for the Paris Agreement and Climate Action >>


In a recent sermon entitled “Defiant Hope,” Rev. Dr. Jim Antal of the United Church of Christ urged his listeners to speak up about climate issues:

Defiant hope believes that we are called by God to change what appears to be inevitable, and that God has given us everything we need to engage. […] So our first task is to end this silence. And it turns out that the biggest predictor of people’s willingness to take action to defend creation is whether they are in regular contact with others who believe and act like them. In other words, by breaking our silence and sharing our views and values with others, we will empower one another to take action.

And this is where church comes in. Looking back, slavery would not have ended if it hadn’t have been for church. And just as the church responded to God’s call over 200 years ago, God is calling the church of today to defend God’s gift of creation. Humanity will not make the changes science says we must unless the church becomes a center for conversation, discernment, support and action.


From the Parliament of the World’s Religions Statement:

The Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns in the strongest possible terms the President’s decision to renege on the commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact signed by 195 nations and formally ratified by 147 nations.

The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective:

  • Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible.

  • Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future, sacrificing US jobs at almost every level of production and service, sacrificing American competitiveness in every market.

  • Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death.

  • Politically, it undermines the United States’ credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security.

Our condemnation of this decision is based on our conviction that the decision is wrong, but not just in the sense that it is incorrect. This decision is wrong in the sense that it is evil—it will result in devastation to life on Earth for generations to come. Its global consequences and impact on every living being on the planet makes it fundamentally immoral.


From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Statement:

The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. […]

The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing risk to economies and lives everywhere, while building the foundation for a more prosperous, secure and sustainable world. It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens. We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels.

 

New Human Right to Water Guide

The Temple of Understanding is part of the UN Mining Working Group, the sponsor of this important new guide to water justice.

“Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are not only essential human rights, but are integrally linked to broader efforts to provide well-being and dignity to all people. I commend Member States for recognizing the right to water and to sanitation in the 2030 Agenda, and for adopting Sustainable Development Goal 6 to realize it.” –Jan Eliasson, Deputy UN Secretary General

Click to read Water & Sanitation: A People’s Guide to SDG 6 >>

 

 

 

 

Repairers of the Breach: Advancing an Interfaith Moral Agenda

We at the Temple of Understanding are inspired by Repairers of the Breach, who are nonpartisan and in the inclusive interfaith tradition of people of faith and no faith advancing a moral agenda:

“Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies which are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings. Repairers will expand a “school of prophets” who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving.” [www.breachrepairers.org]

“A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition.  It would ask of all policy, is the policy Constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane.  We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.”  —Rev. Dr. William, J. Barber, II

 

 

Videos of the sessions of the New Poor People’s Campaign Teach-In are available online.

Part One | Why a Poor People’s Campaign?
Part Two | Voting Rights
Part Three | Race and Poverty Audit
Part Four | Poverty, Economic Inequality and Race
Part Five | Health Care
Part Six | Militarism and the Cost of War
Part Seven | Ecological Devastation and Climate Change

Gender justice is not lifted up as a separate part; we note that 8 of the 14 speakers are women.

 

The first few minutes of Rev. Barber preaching in this video are particularly inspiring and lead into a longer sermon.

Revival and Resiliency After Rejection | Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

Community Is the Key To It All: Moving Agriculture Forward with Blain Snipstal

Photo Credit: In These TimesVia The Domestic Fair Trade Association:

“All I wanted were five simple things: rice, beans, a horse, a goat, and a house,” Blain Snipstal, visionary Maryland farmer, social activist, and keynote speaker at the National Conference on Domestic Fair Trade, reflects. “And I’m now on a journey around the world to get those five simple things.”

Our agricultural system suffers from a loss of connection – from the food that we eat, from the land, from one another. The commoditization of food through industrial agriculture has fundamentally changed our relationships with both the harvest and the harvesters. And Snipstal, through what he calls “peasant farming,” is on a mission to change that.

Read more about Blain Snipstal >>

“We beg for your forgiveness”: Veterans Apologize to Native Elders #StandingRock

Via Salon.com:

Wes Clark Jr., the son of retired U.S. Army general and former supreme commander at NATO Wesley Clark Sr., was part of a group of veterans at Standing Rock one day after the Army Corps announcement. The veterans joined Native American tribal elders in a ceremony celebrating the Dakota Access Pipeline easement denial.

Lakota spiritual leader and medicine man Chief Leonard Crow Dog and Standing Rock Sioux spokeswoman Phyllis Young were among several Native elders who spoke, thanking the veterans for standing in solidarity during the protests.

Clark got into formation by rank, with his veterans, and knelt before the elders asking for their forgiveness for the long brutal history between the United States and Native Americans:

“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.”

Read more on the Veterans’ apology to Native elders >>

Click the image to watch powerful footage of the Veterans’ apology to Native elders:

Veterans-Apology-to-Native-Elders

Dakota Pipeline Halted — Take Action to Stop the Construction for Good #StandingRock #NoDAPL

On December 4, the department of the Army announced that it will not approve an easement that will allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The following statement was released by Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.

“Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes…”

Read the complete statement at StandWithStandingRock.net >>

 

Take Action

But the fight is not over! So long as the project is still being funded, it may move forward at a later date. Please take action to cut off the Dakota Pipeline’s funding.

“While the US Army Corps continues its consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe about the river crossing, the Dakota Access pipeline project is in financial jeopardy.  It is likely impossible for the company to meet its January 1 deadline, and if it does not, producers and shippers who two years ago committed to use the pipeline will have the option to renegotiate or even terminate their contracts… In August, a group of banks agreed to lend $2.5 billion to Dakota Access. But $1.4 billion of this loan is still on hold until the Army Corps grants the final permits for the pipeline. This means that there is still time for the banks involved in this loan to cut their line of credit.”

Target the 17 banks funding the pipeline and demand they divest from the project — read more on HonorEarth.org >>

You can also join MoveOn.org in thanking the Standing Rock Sioux community and/or contributing financially to the tribe.

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Paul Eppinger, interfaith leader, dies at 83

From AZCentral.com:

Paul Eppinger, who led a campaign for Arizona to recognize a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and later was involved in interfaith affairs, has died. He was 83.

The contentious battle in the late 1980s to pass a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in Arizona took six years, with one governor declaring a holiday and the next revoking it, and voters initially voting down a holiday but later, in 1992, supporting it.

Eppinger was the statewide director for the successful “Victory Together Campaign” to establish a state King holiday.

”I think this is precisely what Christians should be interested in to give proper leadership to a critical moral and ethical issue,” he said at the time. ”We look at the saints of all times and lift them up as heroes, but when it comes to us taking a stand in our local community, Christian churches are afraid of what people will think.

”Personally, I’ve never felt the spirit of Jesus more than when I am helping people who have been cast aside or who are down and out.”

Read more about interfaith leader Paul Eppinger >>

Parliament of the World’s Religions Statement on Standing Rock #NoDAPL #StandingRock

Parliament Standing Rock

[Reprinted from the Parliament newsletter]

Today, representatives of the Parliament of the World’s Religions leadership have arrived in North Dakota to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Parliament Vice-Chair Andras Corban-Arthen leads the delegation meeting with the camp organizers. He will present a Parliament statement (follows below) supporting the protest of the DAPL and upholding the dignity, rights and freedoms of our Indigenous siblings by sharing our commitments around the camp’s Sacred Fire. This statement conveys our collective support as a global interfaith community and is co-signed by:

  • Chair of the Board of Trustees Dr. Robert Sellers
  • Executive Director Dr. Larry Greenfield
  • Vice-Chair Dr. Kusumita Petersen
  • Chair of the Indigenous Task Force Lewis Cardinal
  • Parliament of the World’s Religions Special Ambassador on Climate Change Ms. Karenna Gore

If you wish to act with us, below are a few critical points on how you can best support the Standing Rock Sioux. This information comes to us through our contacts on-site:

  • The most important thing is to come to the camp and stand with the Water Protectors as a physical presence.
  • Apply pressure to political leaders. It is critical that we move quickly in our actions before U.S. President Obama leaves office in January.
  • Visit www.standwithstandingrock.net for information and oppportunities to offer financial support. Of the 1.5 million dollars that has come in support of the Water Protectors, more than half has gone to legal fees. No money has been allocated to the 400 people who have been arrested, including 14 clergy members arrested in Bismarck, North Dakota.
  • For those who can physically come to the camp, extra supplies are needed. In addition to your own supply, please try to bring food and water cold weather clothing (mitts, jackets, scarves, and hats) for other Water Protectors.
  • nativechildrenssurvival.org is another good resource for information.

For those able and interested to travel to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, please contact the Parliament for direct information of our on-site contacts, and to offer your own aid in coordinating additional efforts.

Thank you for your support.

Your Friends at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

A Statement on Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

from the Parliament of the World’s Religions


At the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Parliament of the World’s Religions adopted several statements including an Indigenous People’s Declaration for Action and An Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change. We encourage everyone to sign these declarations. The people confronting the ongoing crisis in North Dakota are representative of the action these declarations call for. The following is an excerpt from the Indigenous Declaration.

An End to the Desecration of Sacred Sites

“We hold the Ancestors, the Mother Earth, Forces of Nature, mountains, rivers, oceans, streams, trees, winds, storms, and all living beings as sacred and worthy of reverence. This worldview is the key to reversing the path of disaster on which all inhabitants of our sacred Mother Earth tread. We invite all Brothers and Sisters of the Creator to invoke and respect the divine spirits of the natural world, thereby ending their desecration.”

– Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration for Action, Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2015, Salt Lake City, USA

 

A Statement On Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

The Parliament of the World’s Religions denies any purported “rights” of the Dakota Access Pipeline to trespass on, build upon, and subsequently endanger the sacred land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. We do not speak for the peoples whose sacred sites and waterways are under attack. Instead we respond to a call from our 2015 Parliament keynote speaker Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and we are inviting you to join us in answering that call:

“What we are being faced with is a dark spirit. All life cannot afford to allow the same mistakes to be made any longer. Look what is happening to the four directions in the contamination of MniWic’oni – the water of life…”

“We are asking the religious leaders to come support them to stand side by side with them [the protestors at Standing Rock] because they are standing in prayer.”

– Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Nations

 

The desecration of sacred sites, for profit or otherwise, is both an unjustifiable practice and a violation of the basic human right of religious freedom. This desecration is especially unacceptable when, as in this case, it is perpetrated against peoples who have weathered a long history of abuse for the sake of material wealth, land, and resources in both the recent and distant history of the United States.

The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is an attempt to desecrate the sacred, to corrupt the life that flows from the water and grows from the soil, and to silence the voices speaking out in protest. And while the people at Standing Rock have brought an incredible level of visibility to the abuses happening there, the fight does not belong exclusively to them; it is our responsibility as humans and as people of faith to join them in that fight.

Since the centenary Parliament of 1993, the participation of Indigenous Peoples in Parliament events (in the USA, Africa, Europe, and Australia) has been crucial in making the Parliament of the World’s Religions what it now is. In this present environmental crisis, we have once again been granted an opportunity to embrace the unique and deep spirituality that comes from the land and those who guard it, to find common ground with one another and to experience the beautiful reciprocity that comes from sharing our beliefs, cultures, and our common home. We must not squander this chance to listen to those who have been so often silenced in the past.

Organized and well-funded violence is taking place in rural North Dakota, deployed against these protesters as they stand peacefully against further violence being committed against the Earth. It is another example of unchecked commercial entities endangering the common good for profit, a massive step backwards in the move away from fossil fuel reliance, and a clear instance of oppression.

It is time to join with these Protectors and to stand up to this exploitation of natural resources and the people that they sustain, in the name of the Mother Earth who nurtures all of us.

– The Parliament of the World’s Religions

* * * *

We do not and will never advocate repaying violence with violence in this protest or in others. For peaceful and practical ways to help protect the land and the water endangered by the DAPL and to support the people who are standing against it, here are some actions you can take:

Visit: http://www.nodaplarchive.com

Contact North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200 and leave a message stating your opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Call the White House at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 to ask President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Call the Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-5903 and demand that they rescind the permit.

Hindu priests are now helping to combat child marriage in Nepal

Via Mashable.com:

Imagine your birth certificate being the only thing that can stop you from becoming a child bride. A piece of paper that could change the course of your life.

In Nepal, a girl’s cheena, or astrological chart, is playing a crucial role in deterring her from being married off before she reaches adulthood.

In Nepal, between 38 percent and 50 percent of all girls are married off before turning 18, according to activist groups.

It’s a deeply embedded tradition where marriages are arranged — and often forced through — by parents or relatives of the girl. Some are as young as 12 months.

This can have a variety of inherently detrimental consequences. In the short-term, girls are more likely to drop out of school and are less likely to have access to information about birth control and contraception.

In the long-run, they are more likely to suffer the dangerous impacts from early childbearing. And in a vicious intergeneration circle, the women are less likely to rise out of poverty so that they can spare their own daughters from enduring the same fate.

Surprisingly, astrologers, Hindu priests and shamans could hold the key to ending this perilous cycle.

In a remote far western part of Nepal, some of these religious leaders are using their standing in traditional communities to educate families about the consequences of child marriage.

Read more about Hindu priests combating child marriage in Nepal >>

A young Hindu devotee in Nepal. Image by jmhullot via Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A young Hindu devotee in Nepal. Image by jmhullot via Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dakota Access pipeline protests: UN group investigates human rights abuses

Via The Guardian:

A United Nations group is investigating allegations of human rights abuses by North Dakota law enforcement against Native American protesters, with indigenous leaders testifying about “acts of war” they observed during mass arrests at an oil pipeline protest.

A representative of the UN’s permanent forum on indigenous issues, an advisory group, has been collecting testimony from Dakota Access pipeline protesters who have raised concerns about excessive force, unlawful arrests and mistreatment in jail where some activists have been held in cages.

“When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it’s really astounding to hear some of this testimony,” said Roberto Borrero, a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council.

Read more on human rights abuses at the Dakota Access pipeline protests >>