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Revelations comes in 11 years

I found it strange that my pastor never mentioned the Amazon fires. A month-long blaze is ripping into the lungs of our Earth—and he never said a thing.

For nearly as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve attended a Protestant church, listening to the Gospel preached by a Protestant pulpit. Global warming was as constant a presence as the Protestant faith to me growing up. Every year, my science teacher would give us a short lecture on the state of the earth—the ice caps were shrinking, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch still swirling around in its gyre—and, every Sunday, I would go to church.

Having gone to church for a decade, I have yet to hear prayers for Greta Thunberg, the Friday climate strikes, or the environmental activists facing systemic violence for their cause. Still, every Sunday, I wait for climate action to come up, for the religious to raise to God a prayer for the sake of His own earth. It hasn’t yet come, and I wonder why.

The strange realization only dawned on me recently, as the news of the Amazon blitzed into mainstream media. For an institution that has always expressed to the congregation its stance on local and foreign issues, my church was uncharacteristically silent.

From a Protestant perspective, I believe it’s entirely within our beliefs to protect the earth from those who would seek to harm it, for their own personal gain or any other reason. God didn’t plant us as stewards of our planet only for us to tear it apart.

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set a 2030 deadline on limiting climate change. It sounds dramatic but, contrary to popular belief, the world will not instantly become apocalyptic if the goal isn’t reached. The manifestations of climate change may not initially seem like significant differences in the way we live, but the consequences will ramp up. Efforts to undo the damage done will become increasingly difficult, and accumulate until it becomes too late. What we face now—the storms and vicious heat, the dying reefs, and the rising seas—are just warnings of what could come. I do not understand why we aren’t more concerned.

My case might be isolated; after all, Protestantism is a minority religion in the Philippines, and my church is just one of many. Even though our numbers are markedly less than that of Roman Catholics, this should still not be a reason for us to overlook climate action as we have. In a battle as lopsided as the one we’re fighting now, even a little help could turn the tide. The odds may be stacked against us, but the cause is far from helpless.

Though the legislative moves will be made by national and local governments, citizens hold the power to shape public opinion and political debate. Science may provide the data, but it is up to the people to think critically about their implications. We can change the way we consume things, from electricity to food; we can choose which corporations to support when we make our purchases.

We should not be waiting for church leaders to put words in our mouth, or give us leave to act. People, religious or otherwise, should not turn a blind eye to the reality of climate change. We no longer have time to.

The issues that I have seen raised and discussed in my church—from internal affairs to the current state of the nation—are far from irrelevant; the congregation itself is not at all ignorant of what goes on in the world. My point isn’t to diminish these issues, but rather to add climate action among their ranks.

Environmental concerns may not strike as deep a chord with believers compared to topics such as divorce and the death penalty, but we do not have time to be negligent and apathetic about it. There is so much left to do before we can rest, before we can even begin to atone for what we have done to our planet.

We call ourselves stewards of God’s creation. It’s time we act like it.

By Kyra Choa

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