Religions and environmental protection
Almost all religions address the issue of the creation of the universe, or universes, in different forms and with varying degrees of clarity or detail. However, all religions agree that the creation is an act of God and should be treated as such.
Spiritual leaders at all levels are critical to the success of the global solidarity for an ethical, moral and spiritual commitment to protect the environment and God’s creation. These leaders can become observers, make public commitments, share the story of their commitments and the challenges and joys of keeping them, and invite others to join them. In addition, they can display their sustainable behaviors, serving as role models for their followers and the public. The following is a reflection on how religions have addressed religious commitments towards the environment.
Christianity: There are approximately hundred verses in the bible that talk about protection of the environment. Christians therefore have environmental responsibility and encourage behavioral change for the good of the future (OpenBible.info., n.d).
Christian Connections and Reflection on Environment: “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” (Verse 35:33)
“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (John 6:12)
“We must treat nature with the same awe and wonder that we reserve for human beings. And we do not need this insight in order to believe in God or to prove his existence. We need it to breathe; we need it for us simply to be.” (Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 2010)
“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” (Pope Francis, 2015)
Buddhism: The notion of karma alone, being an important part of Buddha's lessons, conveys the values of conservation and responsibility for the future. It is said that the morality of our actions in the present will shape our character for the future, an idea close of sustainable development.
Buddhist Connections and Reflection on Environment: “As a bee – without harming the blossom, its color, its fragrance – takes its nectar and flies away: so should the sage go through a village.” (Dhammapada IV, Pupphavagga: Blossoms, 49)
“Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.” (Dhammapada IX, Papavagga: Evil, 122)
Islam: Hundreds of Qur’an verses support the protection of the environment. Many some Islamic organizations promote the relation between Islam and sustainability. Islam also approaches environment from a stewardship perspective. The earth is God’s creation, and as humans, we have been entrusted to preserve it as we found. The responsibility of humanity is to protect and ensure the unity (Tawheed) of the God’s creation. Moreover, Islam prohibits the excessive consumption of resources the planet provides to the humanity (Qur’an 7:31, 6:141, 17:26-27, 40:34). In fact, Qur’an mentions wasteful consumption (Isrāf) as the thirty-second greatest sin. In 2015, the Islamic Climate Change Symposium adopted the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.
Muslim Connections and Reflection on Environment: “Devote thyself single-mindedly to the Faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah.” (Qur’an 30:30)
“Do not strut arrogantly on the earth. You will never split the earth apart nor will you ever rival the mountains’ stature” (Qur’an 17: 37).
“It is Allah who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky a ceiling and formed you and perfected your forms and provided you with good things. That is Allah, your Lord; then blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds.” (Qur’an, 40:64)
Judaism: In tradition, the land and environment are properties of God, and it is the duty of humankind to take care of it. The book of genesis, as an example, proposes that the garden in Eden was initially the chosen territory chosen by God for human to live.
Jewish Connections and Reflection on Environment: “And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed--to you it shall be for food.” (Gen 1:29)
“The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24)
“[…] the Earth is Mine; you are My tenants” (Leviticus 25:23)