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E-M:/ PRESS RELEASE - Michigan Religious Leaders



Michigan's Religious Leaders Urge Senators Stabenow
                 and Levin on Global Warming Bill


Contact:     Anne Purdy, (415) 901-0111
                  Michelle Mulkey, (212) 584-5000

MI Faith Leaders Join Those in 45 Other States in urging Senate Leadership to Stop Blocking Discussion of "Great Moral Urgency"

Detroit, Michigan - July 1, 2004  Michigan's religious leaders will deliver a letter to Senators Stabenow and Levin today urging them to seize "this moment of great moral urgency" and press the Senate leadership to open up the Senate floor for debate on a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, that would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

"Global warming is harming God's creation", said Father Charles Morris, pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Wyandotte and Director of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light. "It's one of the most important issues of our time and the Senate leadership will not even allow a thoughtful debate about it. We are urging Senators Stabenow and Levin to help bring the Climate Stewardship Act to the Senate floor for meaningful discussion."

The religious leaders acknowledge that they come from "many distinct faith perspectives," but are united behind the belief that God's people share a collective "moral obligation and urgency to protect human life, human health, and all of creation." For this reason, they say, the Climate Stewardship Act (S.139), which 43 Senators have supported in the past, deserves a hearing on the Senate floor.

"We can disagree on the causes and the remedies, but there is no question that this issue calls for serious discussion," said Imam Achmat Salie, head of the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit. Imam Salie added: "Islam regards the environment as a macro revelation. As stewards we have no right to desecrate any of the gifts granted to us through the environment."

"We urgently call on the U.S. Senate to act by significantly reducing the high level of U. S. greenhouse gas pollution," reads the strongly worded letter endorsed by 30 religious leaders representing the Catholic, mainline Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. "Environmental isolationism is neither morally acceptable, nor faithful to God's law."

Michigan's religious leaders joined bishops, ministers, priests, and rabbis across 45 states who sent similar letters to their Senators. Religious leaders and congregants in nearly every state are planning a nationwide, coordinated call-in day to follow up on the letters when Congress returns to session on July 6th.

"Our scriptures teach us that we have a covenant with God and an obligation to future generations to protect the well-being of all life on Earth," said Sister Janet Stankowski, O.P. an Adrian Dominican sister and President of Voices for Earth Justice. "This is the kind of moral principle that should be guiding public policy. But to fulfill our end of the covenant, we need our elected officials to at least allow debate on the merits of possible solutions to the global warming threat."

Since 2001, the American religious community has increasingly played a prominent national role on the global warming crisis by calling for moral leadership from policymakers and automakers. To date, hundreds of heads of major denominations and senior religious leaders have spoken out on the issue. Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaigns are now active in 21 states, educating congregations about the need for energy conservation and other solutions to global warming. For example, in Michigan the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign co-sponsored a "Global Warming Awareness Rally" at the State Capitol on June 15, 2004 that drew 800 people. The Michigan Campaign is also sponsoring "Healing the World" a conference for religious leaders at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield on July 19, 2004.

Other actions that have engaged people of faith include the Evangelical Environmental Network's "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign on fuel economy and the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign's "What Should the Governor Drive?" focusing on the fuel economy of state vehicle fleets.

More recently, 100 Christian leaders chastised president Bush's air pollution policy, and, in an unprecedented alliance, prominent religious leaders, from a broad range of religious belief, joined forces with eminent scientists to issue a call for action on global warming.
In addition, a June 30 conference of conservative religious leaders is expected to result in a call to action on global warming.

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