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[greenyes] Religion & the Environment

Friday, April 22, 2005

Faithful join efforts toward conservation
By Dan Shapley
Poughkeepsie Journal

Nature is God's creation and gift -- a setting for spiritual enlightenment
and contemplation that is temporarily in human stewardship.

For a growing number of the faithful, that notion is fueling a desire to
fight for environmental protection, often in partnership with
long-established environmental groups that had not before embraced a
religious view of the natural world.

It also represents a new front in the national push-and-pull over the
political term ''moral values'' -- a phrase associated with ideas such as
right-to-life and traditional marriages. Environmental activism has
typically been aligned with the more secular world of science.

''We each have to find a different language,'' said Sister Kathleen
Donnelly, a Catholic nun of the Sisters of St. Ursula at the Linwood
Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck. She also coordinates the Religious Orders
Along the Hudson, a group of monasteries, churches and other religious land
owners in the Hudson Valley concerned about good land stewardship.

''For the scientists to just stay with their measureable quantities, that's
good information but it doesn't go far enough. For us to stay with our
religious language, that's fine, but no one else understands it,'' Donnelly
said. ''We have the same goals, if we talk long enough. We want the same
healthy air, we want the same healthy water.''

There is evidence of the trend in the statements of national religious
leaders of different faiths, in forums discussing the uniting of faith and
science being planned locally and in the strategizing of environmentalists
trying to protect and restore the Hudson River.


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