Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment and the surprising relationship between them, via SustainableBabySteps.com

When it comes to religion and the environment, beliefs are often unjustly criticized (when it's hypocrisy that should be to blame, instead).

I am no theologian, so instead of attempting to explain each religion and its stance on environmental issues, I'm simply going to point out a variety of texts and resources which support religious and spiritual environmentalism.

Baha'ism

In all matters moderation is desirable.
If a thing is carried to excess, it will prove a source of evil.
(Baha'ullah, Tablets of Baha'ullah, p. 69)

  • This article explores the basic principles and beliefs of the members of the Baha'i Faith and then examines how these can and are being applied to environmental and development challenges worldwide.
  • This statement explains how the Baha'i Scriptures view nature and our role in protecting it.
  • This website is a "Baha'i inspired organization addressing the environment and sustainable development".

Buddhism

"Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life,
I undertake to cultivate compassion and learn ways
to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals."
(Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk)

Christianity

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
or birds of the air and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth and it will teach you;
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the lord has done this.
In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
(Job 12:7-10)

  • This article describes the Judeo-Christian call to be stewards over the Earth.
  • This site offers many scriptural references for the Christian religion and the environment.
  • And this article clearly points out a Christian's responsibility to the Earth.

Confucianism

Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection,
and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth,
and all things will be nourished and flourish.
(Confucius)

  • This document describes the ethics of Confucianism religion and environment.
  • This bibliography offers numerous references for more reading on Confucianism and ecology.

Hinduism

Everything in the universe belongs to the Lord.
Therefore take only what you need, that is set aside for you.
Do not take anything else, for you know to whom it belongs.
(Isa Upanishad)

Photo Source: jemasmith
hands in prayer

Islam

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)

  • This paper points out the chief characteristics of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s philosophy and understanding of the this religion and environment.
  • And this article describes the role of Muslims in caring for the Earth "as a loving and caring friend".

Jainism

Ahimsa or nonviolence is not only non-killing,
it also means that one's attitude must be of maitri (amity) and peace.
The real meaning of ahimsa is maitri. There are thought to be countless jivas,
life or life forms, that populate the earth, air, water and are present all around us. How are we to behave towards these?
With maitri.
(Jitubhai Shah)

  • These 10 principles explain the beliefs behind the Jain religion and environment.
  • This article explains how the Jain ethics can "easily be extended to embrace an earth ethic".
  • And the book Jainism and Ecology goes into much deeper detail on this religion and its environment views.

Judaism

For in respect of the fate of man and the fate of beast,
they have one and the same fate: as the one dies so dies the other;
all share the same breath of life.
(Kohelet [Ecclesiastes] 3:19)

  • Rabbi Troster offers ten Jewish teachings on environmentalism and human's duty.
  • This article describes how the Torah urges Jews to "open our eyes, and act responsibly and compassionately toward the world around us".
  • The book, Ecology & the Jewish Spirit "shows just how deeply rooted ecological thinking is in ancient Jewish texts and practices".

Shintoism

Be charitable to all beings,
love is the representative of God.
(Ko-ji-ki, Hachiman Kasuga of the Shinto tradition)

  • This publication explains the background of the Shinto faith and its suggestions on environmental preservation.
  • This news release describes the Shintos commitment to the preservation of sacred forests.
  • This book excerpt explains the background and beliefs of Shintoism in regards to ecology.

Sikhism

Sikh tradition begins with the simple premise
that all the universe is sacred and worthy of respect.
Every bush, ant and tree is, in its own way, engaged in worship.
(SikhNet.com)

  • This paper attempts to explain the Sikh beliefs behind environmentalism and the reasons behind environmental degradation.
  • This website is dedicated to the Sikh community involvement in environmental preservation.

Taoism (Daoism)

He who knows the activities of Nature
lives according to Nature.
(Chuang Tzu, The Book of Chang Tzu)

  • This article offers great insight into Daoist religion and environment protection.
  • This PDF describes deep ecology and the human role from a Taoist perspective.

taoism writing

Zoroastrianism

Whoever teaches care for all these seven creations,
does well and pleases the Bounteous Immortals;
then his soul will never arrive at kinship with the Hostile Spirit.
When he has cared for the creations,
the care of these Bounteous Immortals is for him,
and he must teach this to all mankind in the material world.
(Shayasht ne Shayast 15:6)

  • This excerpt describes Zoroastrianism beliefs in regard to nature and the environment.
  • This article describes how the religion can be defined by its stewardship and reverence for life.

It's inspiring and encouraging to know that despite major religious differences and the strife it often causes we can still find a common thread in our lives and our care of the Earth.

Below is a collection of books to help you delve deeper into this subject.

Do you have something to add?

I'm always interested in adding to this list. If you've come across an interesting article that describes the positive influences of religion on the environment, please let me know by contacting me here.

Or read more about this offer here.


Ready To Get Stepping?

All of this information on religion and environment issues can be inspirationl and informative, but agreeing with it doesn't mean much without action behind your words.

An idea not coupled with action will never
get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.
~ Arnold Glasow

If you're ready to start a greener lifestyle, I'd recommend the following Steps first:

  • Top Ways To Go Green: These should be your starting points. They are the no-duh things and most of them are very easy to implement.
  • Going Green At Home: For most of us, our homes are probably our biggest carbon footprint. Pop over there to learn easy ways to save water, energy and other resources.
  • Or you can head back to Why Go Green? to learn more.

Have fun!




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