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Voices for Earth Justice
(Roseville, MI)
                               ***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
                                         February 11, 2005

Media contacts:  Patricia Gillis, 248-474-7992 or 313-399-8320
                          Kim Winchell, 989-695-2402  kwinch5940@aol.com
Michigan Religious Leaders Tell President, Congress:
              The Only Mandate that Matters is God's
Statement Signed by over 1,000 Leaders Nationwide Reflects Consensus that Protecting God's Creation is a Moral Issue, Denounces Clear Skies Initiative as Moral Violation and Calls for Action on Climate Change
[Feb. 11, 2005]  With the Kyoto Protocol set to go into effect without U.S. support on the same day the Clear Skies Initiative is scheduled for markup in Congress next week, over 75 Michigan religious leaders are joining colleagues nationwide to tell the Bush administration and members of Congress that the only "mandate" that matters is God's.

In a statement released today, pastors, rabbis, and lay leaders expressed great dismay and alarm at the administration's erosion of protection for God's creation, specifically the Clear Skies initiative, which religious leaders believe will actually increase dangerous pollutants, and the administration's and Congressional leaders' refusal to take action on climate change and their plans to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Addressing the administration's claims to a mandate to push through their agenda, the statement says, "there was no mandate, no majority, or no 'values' message in this past election for the President or the Congress to roll back and oppose programs that care for God's Creation."

"While the majority of religious Americans voted for Bush, our vote wasn't a green light to pollute the air, accelerate species extinction and turn our backs on our responsibility to stop global warming," said Rabbi Michael Zimmerman of Congregation Kehillat Israel in Lansing. "We answer to a higher power, and want to remind all religious people, Republicans, Democrats and The White House, of our covenant with God to care for Creation."

Other faith leaders from Michigan who signed the statement include: Lutheran Bishop Robert Rimbo (Detroit), Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (Detroit), and the Rev. Dr. Kent Ulery, Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ in Michigan. The letter, officially released on Friday, February 11, will be delivered to Senator Levin and Stabenow's district offices on Feb. 15, prior to a national Day of Prayer and call-in day for congregants, pastors, and rabbis to contact their senators and the White House to remind them of our moral obligation to protect Creation.  An education piece about the religious mandate will be sent to 250,000 clergy and congregational leaders and there will also be a prominent issue advertisement concerning climate change placed in Roll Call and the Faithful America network.

This statement comes at the heels of a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showing strong support for environmental protection among people of faith. The poll also found that in setting national priorities, 53 percent place the environment above other issues, including abortion (46 percent) and same-sex marriage (33 percent).

"We may come from distinct faith perspectives, but we are united behind our belief that the only mandate that matters is God's," said James A. Kelsey, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan. "God is clear in the Bible that humans should protect Creation, including children and the elderly. Clear Skies in particular, is a morally unacceptable violation to this principle.  We must protect our children from harmful mercury pollution now, not later, and we must protect future generations from the dangers of global warming."

Several passages in the Bible support this mandate: the Psalms outlines a paramount obligation to "defend the poor and the orphan" (Ps 82:3), while Genesis commands us to "till and tend the garden" (Gen 2:15) and states that we have an obligation, in prudence and precaution, to sustain the future well-being of all life on Earth, God's "covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature for perpetual generations." (Gen 9:12).

Voices for Earth Justice is an interfaith network of people committed to deepening our sense of wonder, responsibility, and gratitude for all creation by prayer, education and action. Together with the MI Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, VEJ conducts
the MI Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign.

voices4earth@juno.com  or kwinch5940@aol.com


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