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Sharon Delgado
Sharon Delgado
The Reverend Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister, executive director of Earth Justice Ministries, and author of “Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization” (www.shakingthegatesofhell.org).



Paris, Trump, and the Religious Right

Jun19

by: on June 19th, 2017 | Comments Off

“Resisting the Green Dragon: A Biblical Response to one of the Greatest Deceptions

of our Day,” that is, environmentalism.

Paris, Trump, and the Religious Right

Note: This article includes excerpts from my book, Love in a Time of Climate Change, to be released by Fortress Press in July.

Like many of you, I am appalled by many things that Donald Trump has said and done in the first months of his presidency, including his announcement that he’s pulling the United States out of the (largely symbolic) Paris Climate Agreement. But we must look beyond the daily spectacles of the Trump Administration to see what’s really going on. Now that Republicans dominate Congress, they are quietly working to enact regressive policies that have been in the works for decades, policies that target the poor, people who are sick, people of color, immigrants, women, our young and aged, and yes, the environment.

Donald Trump didn’t get elected in a vacuum. He has lots of backers, including the Religious Right. This primarily Christian constituency is aligned with conservative social, political, and economic interests and is a powerful and organized force in the Republican Party. The cruel policies supported by those who espouse right-wing Christian beliefs are the antithesis of Jesus’ teachings about loving God and loving our neighbors.

The Religious Right also exerts a strong influence on the debate about climate change in the United States. This conservative religious lobby’s talking points and policy proposals on energy and climate are largely indistinguishable from those of the fossil fuel industry. Recent initiatives have focused on Academic Freedom legislation, designed to “teach the controversy” about climate change in public schools. Legislation to this effect has been drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative secular organization that brings corporate leaders together with conservative lawmakers to draft model legislation on various issues to be presented in state legislatures. Teach the controversy legislation has also been supported by the Alliance for Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian advocacy group, and the Discovery Institute – a creationist think tank. This uninformed and deliberately confusing approach to climate change was reflected by then-candidate Donald Trump in a 2016 New York Times interview, when he said, “You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views. I have a totally open mind…. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know.”

Right-wing Christian groups deny climate science and evolutionary science on the basis that they are unbiblical. The Cornwall Alliance’s website hosts a sign-on declaration, “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,” stating that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.” The Cornwall Alliance also offers a DVD called “Resisting the Green Dragon: A Biblical Response to one of the Greatest Deceptions of our Day,” which outlines the dangers of the new and false “religion” of environmentalism. Not surprisingly, the organization also works to prevent the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Although political and economic interests help fund and influence the Christian Right’s opposition to climate science, there are also theological factors at work. An analysis of anti-environmental sentiment within the Religious Right reveals that some are convinced that concern for the environment is based on the worship of nature. Others, who believe in apocalyptic prophesies about the coming end times, feel that it is pointless to worry about climate change. What they hold in common, however, is their insistence that the creation stories in the book of Genesis must be taken literally.

Creationism, the belief that the creation stories of Genesis are scientific fact, is widespread among conservative Christians, who seek to introduce this doctrine even in public schools. This sets the creation stories in scripture in opposition to the scientific story of the origins and natureof the universe. Was the universe created in fifteen billion years or in seven days? In pre-scientific times, most believers did take the creation stories in Genesis literally, but times have changed. Scientific discoveries have revealed aspects of the universe unknown in ancient times.

One form of denial at work in these and other conversations about climate change is people’s refusal to consider facts or evidence that contradicts their worldview. Science is continually revealing new information about the natural world, its origins and interconnectedness, and the causes and impacts of planetary warming. Reason enables us to weigh the evidence, reflect on its implications, form rational conclusions, and make informed decisions as we consider how to respond to the earth’s changing climate in a reasonable way. But in the words of Naomi Klein, “it is always easier to deny reality than to watch your worldview get shattered…”

The debate about climate change is political, not scientific, and confusion need not hold us back. Faith in the One who brought creation into being enables us to overcome denial, fear, and confusion as we seek truth about these issues. Jesus insisted that the most important measure of human life is loving God above all and our earthly neighbors as ourselves. In this time of climate change, love of God and neighbor requires honoring creation and working to establish justice for our human family, especially those who are most vulnerable, for our young and future generations, and for all creation.

 

Sharon’s new book, Love in a Time of Climate Change, describes some of the ways that the Religious Right has impacted US climate policy, and explores the topic of climate change in a way that takes climate science seriously and is grounded in Jesus’ teachings and example. Sharon’s blog can be found at sharondelgado.org.

For more information and an analysis on the Religious Right’s backing of Donald Trump’s policies on climate change, see “Politics, culture, or theology? Why evangelicals back Trump on global warming,” by David Gibson.

 

 

Peace for the World, Healing for the Climate

Dec16

by: on December 16th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Red Line Action at Beale

Yesterday I was arrested at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California, along with seven others. We were charged with trespassing. This video of me speaking was filmed after we crossed the line onto the base. In it I begin to explain the connections between US military policy and climate change. The letter that we attempted to deliver to the base commander gives a more detailed explanation of our concerns and our reasons for demonstrating.

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Calls for Climate Justice in Paris

Nov28

by: on November 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Starting Monday, November 30, government officials, corporate heads, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will meet for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) for climate negotiations, this time in Paris. World leaders and other official summit attendees will be protected by greatly enhanced security because of the tragic terrorist attacks. Civil society won’t enjoy such protection because demonstrations in Paris have been prohibited. But around the world people will gather to pray for solace for the victims of Paris and other recent attacks, for the success of the climate talks, and for peace. People around the world will also gather to demonstrate and call on world leaders to take strong action to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.


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Goodkill… Or Not

May25

by: on May 25th, 2015 | Comments Off

Memorial Day seems a fitting time to review the movie “Goodkill,” now playing in theaters around the country. The movie, based on actual events, portrays a morally-conflicted and psychologically-tormented operator of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”), played by Ethan Hawke.

Even though the plot includes some obvious Hollywood enhancements, it presents some basic facts about drone warfare, facts that are little known to the U.S. public. For instance, drone operators accidentally kill civilians, but sometimes see that civilians (including children) are present and proceed (or are ordered to proceed) anyway. “Signature strikes” do not target individually-recognized terrorists, but groups that fit a particular profile. A “double tap” means that after a drone attack, a second drone targets rescue workers or people attending the funeral of victims from the first attack.

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Global Divestment Day: Undermining the System that Causes Climate Change

Feb13

by: on February 13th, 2015 | Comments Off

Calling on the United Methodist Church to Divest from Fossil Fuels.

 

Check out the many divestment actions that are taking place around the world today–Global Divestment Day.

The movement to divest from fossil fuels undermines the system that is causing climate change. The worldwide system of unrestrained free-market capitalism, dominated by global corporations and fueled by money, is based on the view that market forces will sort everything out.

Those of us who are working to get our churches, synagogues, colleges, and other institutions to divest from fossil fuels are challenging this system by saying, “Money is not the highest value.” There are good financial reasons to divest from fossil fuels, but even if there weren’t, “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” There are values in life that are more important than money.

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Do We Have the Wisdom to Survive?

Sep20

by: on September 20th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Wisdom to Survive documentary

Fires are burning week after week again this year here in rural Northern California. The smoky skies aggravate asthma, give people headaches, burn people’s eyes, and make people grouchy. We are warned to stay indoors due to unsafe levels of particulates. As climate change continues to accelerate, other people in other places are also experiencing record-setting fires, heat waves, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events.

Do we have the wisdom to survive? Will humanity rise to the challenge presented by climate change? Will we change our ways of thinking and acting, will we transform our institutions and systems, in time to prevent climate chaos? This question is always with me, even as I gather my grandchildren close to me and play and laugh and learn with them. What will this overheating planet be like for them in twenty or forty or sixty years?

I do have hope. I am grateful to be part of a world-wide community of people who are aware of what is at stake with the earth’s changing climate and who are willing to take action. Tomorrow, the largest People’s Climate March in history will be held in New York, as world leaders gather in New York to discuss the climate crisis. There will be solidarity demonstrations around the world, including in Oakland, Davis, Sacramento, and here in Nevada City. I hope that everyone who can come out will come out. The time is now.

Regardless of what you think about climate change, I recommend the film “Wisdom to Survive.” Here is the blurb I wrote for Old Dog Documentaries to help get the word out about the film:

Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Community is an exquisitely filmed documentary that presents an overview of the climate crisis, including its causes, effects, and directions of hope. Poignant scenes illustrate the sacred beauty of the natural world, the tragedy of its diminishment, and our human interconnectedness with the rest of creation.

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Campaign Nonviolence:  A Call to Transformation

Sep11

by: on September 11th, 2014 | Comments Off

 

 

Why do I engage in nonviolent direct action? Why will I go back to Beale Air Force Base (home of the Global Hawk surveillance drone which helps find targets for weaponized drones) later this month to demonstrate, even as all the charges against me and other anti-drone demonstrators have been dropped? Because I believe that through nonviolent action we can be transformed and can contribute to the transformation of the world.


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Beale Charges Dropped

Sep4

by: on September 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

 

 

 

 

 

The government has dismissed the case against the sixteen of us who were arrested last April for civil disobedience at Beale Air Force Base. Beale, outside Marysville, California, is home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that identifies targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.

We’ll be back! In fact, we’ll be back later this month. For nonviolent direct action to be effective, it has to be sustained. History has shown that sustained nonviolent resistance is an effective means of social transformation.


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Mourning Democracy

Apr2

by: on April 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on McCutcheon vs. the Federal Elections Commission(FEC) is yet another nail in the coffin of U.S. democracy. The high court struck down the right of “We the People” to establish laws limiting overall campaign contributions by individuals. Such limits have been set in an attempt to create a level playing field in our democracy for rich and poor alike.

The political playing field was already unequal, since over the years the Supreme Court has increasingly granted civil rights and constitutional protections to corporations. This expansion of corporate rights culminated in the infamous 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. the FEC, which prohibits our right to limit corporate spending on elections through political action committees (PACs). The Citizens United decision resulted in the overturning of campaign finance laws at the federal level and in states across the nation. Today’s McCutcheon ruling is also disastrous for democracy.

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Ash Wednesday Worship and Arrests at Beale

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off

Ash Wednesday Arrestees at Beale

Today, on Ash Wednesday, I participated in a deeply meaningful worship service and nonviolent direct action against drones at the gate of Beale Air Force Base. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “My body is tired but my soul is rested.” Actions of faith and conscience are good for the soul. You can see KCRA’s coverage here and a video of the arrests here.

The worship service was exquisite. Although today is a Christian holy day and we used traditional Christian symbols in worship, the service was unique in that it was open to and inclusive of people of all faiths and philosophies. It included a prayer in the four directions based on Indigenous spirituality, the World Peace Prayer (from the Hindu religion), and a Hebrew song introduced by Rabbi Seth Castleman. I was reminded of the passover we celebrated in the same spot outside the same Beale gate last year.

Today’s Ash Wednesday service included both personal and national repentance, particularly related to U.S. militarism and drone warfare. We celebrated Holy Communion and used ashes as a sign of repentance and mortality. The “passing of the peace” included some people carrying the message of peace to the TV crew and Beale officers. Several participants told me that it was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday service they had ever attended.

Following the service, five of us, including two other ordained ministers, walked across the boundary line onto base property. We sprinkled ashes that represented the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones. Some of us carried crosses with artistic renditions of some of these children, with their names, ages, and countries of origin.

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