Many religions have taken recent steps to become more environmentally friendly. For examples, temples, mosques, and churches have begun to use better lighting and solar panels to save energy. In another situation, Muslims have strove to make Ramadan and The Hajj more eco-friendly by educating people and encouraging followers to use more public transportation with traveling to Mecca.
I think religion and environmentalism have parallels to each other. Both are a lifestyle, supported by a school of thought. Both believe in a collective source greater than yourself, but which you are a part of.
Here is some interesting food for thought. There is an essay written by Lynn White, Jr. titled “The Historical Roots of Our Environmental Crisis” that suggests the very earliest cause of our current ecological problems is the Western tradition of Christianity. His reasoning goes something like this: before Christianity took hold in Western culture, paganism was a very common belief system. Paganism supposes that all creatures and all life are sacred. Therefore, if a pagan hunts a boar, the gods must be appeased for the sacrifice of the boar. Pagans are inherently respectful and reverent of the environment.
When Christianity swept over Western culture and Pagans began converting to “be saved,” nature lost its spirit. White purports that immediately in the Book of Genesis, man’s relationship to nature is defined. God grants Adam the right to name all living creatures, thus also granting mankind dominance over the lesser creatures. Suddenly, mankind is no longer a brother to nature, mankind is a lord over nature. Mankind is free to exploit nature at his own discretion.
White argues that it is this shift from Paganism to Christianity that can be blamed for our current crisis. It’s a very interesting perspective. Of course, today some religious groups are joining the Green revolution, but that doesn’t in anyway invalidate White’s argument.
I’ve only briefly summarized his essay. To read it in full, see the citation below.
I think the answer to this depends on how an individual views religion. Religion’s greatest gift is the opportunity to improve the world and oneself because of a motivation of something greater than oneself.
If we view religion as an opportunity for growth, mercy, generosity, and love, as I believe all religion is intended, then every religion ties in with environmentalism. Saving our earth is a selfless act that will enable our friends, familes, animals, and future generations to live full and healthy lives. Anyone trying to become a better person as part of a religion should want this for others, and so caring for the environment should be as integral to reigious practice as a trip to Mecca, going to Temple, or Sunday church services.
But that’s my philosophy. To each their own.
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