As negotiations for bill trail into summer, moral leaders urge speed and urgency in helping working families and the planet
WASHINGTON, DC — With vital infrastructure negotiations ongoing, 100 nationally respected faith leaders convened on Capitol Hill to demand swift passage of President Joe Biden’s historic American Jobs Plan. Representing an array of religious backgrounds, leaders spoke, prayed, and sang to demand a 100 percent clean electricity standard (CES) that is an urgent step in addressing climate change.
Faith leaders offered prayers and teachings on the moral imperative to heal our economy and planet from runaway climate change. Speakers included Interfaith Power & Light President Rev. Susan Hendershot, Dayenu Founder and CEO Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Green Ramadan Founder and Chair of Masjid Muhammad Green Team Kori Majeed, Strategy Team Leader for Care for Creation Committee at the Archdiocese of Washington Angela Wilson-Turnbull, and Founder and President of EcoSikh Dr. Rajwant Singh.
“Faith leaders are rising to the occasion all across America with a simple message for Congress: Act now for working families and the climate,” said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, a faith activist and President of the Hip Hop Caucus. “Today, at Congress’ front door, we are saying NOW is the time to pass a powerful, full version of the President’s American Jobs Plan, including 100% clean power. It’s a matter of right versus wrong.”
The gathering represents a growing chorus of faith leaders lifting their voices to bring attention to our climate emergency, including a group of Evangelical leaders who sent a detailed letter to Congress sounding the alarm and urging investments similar to those proposed in the American Jobs Plan. Additionally, a multi-faith coalition of faith groups is circulating a faith leader letter to Congress urging a infrastructure proposal that includes bold climate investments. It currently has over 1,500 signers and will be delivered next week.
“For many, this past pandemic year has felt like wandering in the desert. As we work toward recovery, we must remember what G-d tells the Israelites in the desert: ‘Lo b’shamayim hi. It is not in heaven.’ It is not beyond us,” said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. “We can transform our society and economy. But in order to do so our policymakers need to have the vision and courage to pass economic recovery and infrastructure legislation that has big and bold investments in clean energy and transportation, a target of 100% clean electricity, and a commitment to environmental justice.”
The US needs to invest trillions of dollars into building zero emission affordable housing units, replacing lead pipes, growing public transportation and electric vehicle use, creating walkable communities, promoting technological breakthroughs, launching a Climate Conservation Corps, expanding renewable electricity, and much more. The American Jobs Plan does all of this while investing massively in historically disadvantaged communities.
“As leaders from many diverse faith traditions, we are united in our call for Congress to pass the full American Jobs Plan with 100% clean electricity and strong investments in environmental justice,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power & Light. “It is the moral responsibility of our nation, and our sacred task as people of faith, to care for our neighbors and our common home, and to protect our children’s future. Now is the time for historic investments that create family and community sustaining jobs while caring for this sacred earth and our neighbors.”
A full 70 percent of religious Americans now believe global warming is a threat requiring action, according to a recent Yale-George Mason University poll.
“We’re not simply a small, progressive-minded wing of the U.S. faith community,” said Mike Tidwell, a DC-area Presbyterian and director of the CCAN Action Fund. “Increasingly, we ARE the voice of faith voters who know future generations will judge the legislative choices we make today. The American Jobs Plan must pass, in full, right now, to meet our ethical responsibilities to future Americans.”
This action kicks off the larger “100 Leaders for 100% Clean Energy” summer series of events, organized to demonstrate the broad-based support that exists across the country for the American Jobs Plan and it’s 100% clean power provision. The event was co-hosted by Interfaith Power & Light, Dayenu, the Hip Hop Caucus, Evergreen Action, and CCAN Action Fund.
Additional speakers and participants at the event were Founder and Executive Director of The People’s Justice Council and Alabama Interfaith Power & Light Rev. Michael Malcom, Speaker/Writer/Activist/Artist and President and Founder of Freedom Road Lisa Sharon Harper, Hip Hop Caucus Founder Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Senior Minister at the UU Congregation of Rockville MD Rev. Rebekah Savage, CCAN Action Fund Founder Mike Tidwell, Co-Founder and Director of One Earth Sangha Kristin Barker, Temple Rodef Shalom Cantor Rachel Rhodes, and Rev. Melanie Mullen who is the director for the Department of Reconciliation, Justice, Creation Care, at the Episcopal Church.
The CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For almost 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Interfaith Power & Light is a national nonprofit organization with 40 state affiliates and 22,000 congregations in all 50 states. IPL inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change.
Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action aims to secure a just, livable, and sustainable world for all people for generations to come by building a multi-generational Jewish movement that confronts the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action.