by Alexei Laushkin
Starting with the chorus of the hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King – the paraphrased words of St. Francis of Assisi, Senator Robert Casey (D,PA) announced support for President Obama’s Climate Action Plan including The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan at Eastern University. The statement came as the Senator moderated a panel discussion on Friday, September 18, 2015 at the university’s St. Davids, PA Campus.
Surrounded by a Catholic Sister, Evangelical Biologist, Catholic Theologian. Catholic Mom and EEN’s President, Rev. Mitch Hescox, Senator Casey stated, “Our Faith should guide and inspire our decisions.” Referencing Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’, The Bible, The Evangelical Climate Initiative’s Climate Change: An Evangelical Call To Action and the Lausanne Movement For World Evangelism’s Cape Town Commitment, all panelists supported Senator Casey’s announcement and continually referred climate change as a moral imperative and not a political issue.
“So, needless to say, I am delighted to be here today to applaud you, Senator Casey, a fellow Catholic, for your support of the Clean Power Plan. As a PA Senator this is not an easy position to take politically. However, morally it is the best position,” stated Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark.
Thanking the Senator for his announcement, EEN’s Hescox said, “Climate Change is the greatest moral challenge of our time as it already impacts all of God’s children throughout His creation. However it also the greatest opportunity for hope. With less than 7000 coal mining jobs left in Pennsylvania, it’s time to rebuild Pennsylvania with a clean energy economy. Renewable energy jobs throughout United States are growing dramatically and already employ more workers than the coal industry.” “How can we continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry at the rate we do? As a lifelong Republican, we are propping a dying industry and that’s unfair to the market,” Hescox continued.
The panelists continually referenced the need for a just transition for the loss of coal jobs, while highlighting the children’s health threats, national security implications arising from food and water scarcity worldwide, and biblical imperative to steward God’s creation.
The discussion entitled, “Faith, Children, and the Moral Dimensions of Climate Change” was sponsored by Eastern University, The Evangelical Environmental Network, and Moms Clean Air Force. Panelists in addition to Senator Casey included: Dr. Daniel P. Scheid, Assistant Professor of Theology, Duquesne University; Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ. The Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center; Dr. David W. Unander, Professor of Biology, Eastern University Haynes; Ms. Gretchen Dahlkemper, Field Director, Mom’s Clean Air Force, and The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President, The Evangelical Environmental Network.