The new religion.....climate change
Is there a dark side to religious environmentalism?
Between 6 -18th November the UN climate conference COP27 was held on the Sinai Peninsula in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. What may not be so well-known is that religious leaders from across the three monotheistic faiths signed the Jerusalem Climate Declaration just prior to the climate conference. Their stated aim was to encourage and empower religious communities around the world to curb climate change.
It has been revealed that interfaith leaders also gathered at the conference to call for climate justice and a ceremony of repentance, during which a 'New Ten Commandments' was conceived. The organisations responsible for coordinating this were the Elijah Interfaith Institute and its Board of World Religious Leaders; the Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development (ICSD); the Peace Department (a US non-profit organisation) and climate activist Yosef Abramowitz.
However, the 'New 10 Commandments' are not so new: the 10 commandments of climate change were devised some time ago by Pope Francis. An article from 2015 cites the Pope calling for a 'cultural revolution' to halt the 'disturbing warming of our planet' – the actual document being 184 pages in length. It is no surprise that Pope Francis is a leading voice in promoting the coming together of world religions to address what is widely perceived as an existential crisis: he has always encouraged inter-religious dialogue and collaboration. This was clearly demonstrated in the first-ever Pope Video message on his Monthly Prayer Intentions in 2016, in which he made the assertion that regardless of religion we are all children of God. The video featured representatives of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism, all of whom proclaimed their respective beliefs in God, Jesus Christ, Allah and Buddha and who then declared their common belief in love.
Scripture, however, disagrees with the Pope – we are all made in the image of God, but we are not all children of God. In John 1:10-13 we read: He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
In our times the focus of this interfaith movement appears to be what is commonly termed the climate crisis. One of the plans was to hold a large ceremony of repentance on Jabal Musa, purportedly the biblical Mt. Sinai site. However, only a small group of faith leaders were allowed due to security concerns. As we know Mt. Sinai is a sacred place of revelation: it was the place where God’s Ten Commandments were revealed to Moses and written by the finger of God on two stone tablets.
On Moses’ Mt. Sinai ascension he was away so long that the Israelites, thinking he may have died, demanded Aaron make an idol for them to worship and to go before them as their god on their travels. Aaron made a golden calf, and the people rejoiced. When God revealed this to Moses he descended in a rage and, witnessing the celebrations, smashed the stone tablets in anger – perhaps to demonstrate how badly the Israelites had broken God’s Law on this matter.
In a mock representation of this historic event, climate activist Yosef Abramowitz smashed two tablets atop Jabal Musa to symbolise the world’s lack of action on climate change. In doing so Yosef was expressing anger at man’s disregard for the earth rather than man’s rebellion against God’s eternal Law, as per Moses' action. One of these tablets was painted with the words 'broken promises' in Hebrew; the other was painted green to symbolise the 'green commandments'.
Rabbi Yonatan Neril (the founder of the ICSD) stated: “The climate crisis is a spiritual crisis and therefore we need the world’s religious leaders to address the problem. We will do everything to unite as many religious leaders as possible in the world to act on the climate issue.” The interfaith redress of the climate crisis has now been initiated, with representatives of all the world’s major religions gathering simultaneously on November 13th in London, Sharm El Sheikh in Jerusalem and many other locations around the world to hold a Climate Repentance Ceremony. It’s interesting to note that the places chosen were high points: London’s Parliament Hill and high points in Jerusalem, Salt Lake City Utah, Ecuador, India’s Mt Abu etc. The leaders walked together in a 'prayerful, penitential march' with scrolls bearing the Ten Principles for Climate Repentance. This was followed by a planned series of climate-change events for religious leaders all over the world, uniting for the sake of the planet. Biblically speaking, the high places were the sites of pagan rituals.
All Christians agree that God has commanded us to be good stewards of the earth, and in this we could certainly do better. Care for God’s creation is supported by a number of passages in the Bible, the original call to stewardship being in Genesis 1:28: And God blessed them, and said to them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. There is no dispute that we are charged to look after the planet on which we live. However, God’s first two commandments clearly state that we are to have no other gods before Him and are not to make idols. Therefore, questions need to be asked regarding the spirit of this movement. Have God’s Commandments been replaced by new commandments? Has the earth become an object of worship rather than stewardship?
There is no doubt that in addition to emotional manipulation, imagery and religious language are being used by this movement – new prophets, new commandments, a new covenant and even a new 'Eco Bible' (an Amazon Kindle #1 best seller) are examples. A quick internet search will also reveal an ever-increasing and evolving pantheistic worldview, through the popularity of Gaia worship (honoring the earth and reducing the human impact thereon) and other manifestations of earth worship which emphasise worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.
What appears to be occurring is that our 'climate crisis' is acting as a catalyst for a new religion embraced by many belief systems. This new religion is a non-judgmental, feel-good religion of ecumenism (promoting unity among the world's Christian churches) inclusion and acceptance of all people and all lifestyles. Notably, the only exception – the only people being rejected – are the remnant followers of Jesus Christ.