Faith Group Pushes For Climate Action With Declaration To Holcomb

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    Faith Group Pushes For Climate Action With Declaration To Holcomb

    INDIANAPOLIS—“It’s something that we share as a community, and we need to care for it as a community, otherwise we all suffer for it,” said declaration signer Rev. Doug Kaufman.

    Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) has gathered over 700 signatures in a declaration urging Gov. Eric Holcomb and state legislators to recognize environmental health as a real issue in Indiana. This declaration was delivered early Friday to Holcomb’s office.

    Hoosier IPL members at the Indiana Statehouse delivered their declaration.

    IPL is an organization of faith leaders from multiple religions who are committed to addressing climate change and other environmental issues. Affiliated with the national group, it holds a variety of workshops and events to get state residents interested in protecting the environment.

    Dori Chandler, interim executive director of IPL, said the organization includes people of various faiths, from Christianity to Hinduism. What brings them together is their interest in being stewards of the earth.

    “The faith community does respond to calls to action, and in particular, this one is linked to all other really important issues,” Chandler said. “I mean, if we don’t have a livable climate, then our food security is at risk, the homeless community will increase … People have seen firsthand how (environmental problems) have impacted agriculture.”

    Chandler said she hopes to see Holcomb and state legislators take necessary preventative measures to protect the earth and show that they consider environmental issues as genuine issues.

    “We do this in our homes and in our congregations, and now we’re asking our state legislators to really bring it home to us,” she said.

    Kaufman signed IPL’s declaration and is Mennonite. He said he first became interested in protecting the environment about 18 years ago. His church was doing baptisms in a nearby river, and he said he saw some sort of goop, which put things into perspective for him.

    Kaufman said people of faith are interested in protecting the environment because of the convictions of their religions.

    “God is the creator of the earth. We tend to think that the earth belongs to us, but the conviction of many faith communities is that the earth belongs to God and that we have a responsibility to God,” Kaufman said.

    Kaufman also said he believes Indiana has been lacking on environmental bills and legislation and hopes that the declaration will spark change. He agreed with Chandler, saying he wants Holcomb and state lawmakers to confirm that the climate is something they’re concerned about.

    During the last session, Indiana’s House Environmental Affairs Committee was assigned 13 bills, relating to everything from greenhouse gas emissions to drinking water safety. All 13 were denied.

    Legislators have shown a lack of interest in environmental protection in general, with Holcomb signing SEA 839 into law during the last session. It removed state regulations for Indiana’s wetlands.

    Kaufman said he finds environmental issues less political and more of an ethical issue.

    “Focusing on the climate is for the common good. It’s a global good,” Kaufman said. “It’s something that we share as a community, and we need to care for it as a community, otherwise we all suffer for it.”

    FOOTNOTE: Ashlyn Myers is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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