Interfaith Action for Climate

The ten commandments received at Mount Sinai have guided millions of people for the last 3,500 years. As we face the oncoming environmental challenges, it is imperative to bring faith back into the conversation.

 

In accordance with this belief, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and Partners will be hosting a Sinai Climate Campaign, including a “Returning to Mount Sinai: Prophetic Call for Climate Justice” The ten commandments

Between November 6th and 18th, 2022, the UN climate conference COP 27 will take place on the Sinai Peninsula, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Religious communities and religious leaders have a key role to play in addressing climate change and climate justice, which requires deep transformation within society. The knowledge of what changes are critically needed to diminish long-term harm to the planet is readily available. However, bringing about change in action demands deeper changes in attitude, a change of heart. This has been the domain of religions for millennia. Religions are sources of inspiration for the transformation of heart and the ensuing changes of attitude.

Religious leaders gather in Sinai and release “Ten Principles for Climate Justice”

An ecological conference is bringing together 40,000 attendees to the Sinai Desert, at which a group of leaders from multiple faiths will unveil “Ten Principles for “Climate Justice”.
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) istaking place in the Sinai Peninsula, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18, involving over 100 world leaders, as well as leaders in business and other sectors. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious figures will participate in the conference since “religions are sources of inspiration for the transformation of heart and the ensuing changes of attitude,”

Sinai is “a place of revelation in the collective consciousness of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and others. It is a site for turning to God and receiving God’s message.” During COP 27, at numerous locations in the world, including London, Jerusalem, Sharm El Sheik, and Rishikesh, India, “Climate Repentance Ceremonies” will be held, that will “put forth a prophetic interreligious call to action.” Rabbi Alon Goshen Gottstein

The Climate Repentance Ceremony was initially intended to be held at Jebel Musa in the southern Sinai Peninsula traditionally believed to be the location of the Biblical Mount Sinai, a site of great significance in the Bible and considered holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Unfortunately, the Egyptian government chose not to permit the main event to be held at Jabal Musa due to security concerns and the venue was changed to London and other locations. A small group of faith leaders will be allowed to hold a gathering at Jabal Musa. But the Biblical significance and Mount Sinai are still central themes of the event

Mt. Sinai Photo by Hannah Schultz

Mt. Sinai Photo by Hannah Schultz

Some people believe religion is separate and distinct from ecology or care for God’s creation. Were it not for the receiving of the Hebrew Bible on Mount Sinai, the Jewish tradition teaches, God would have returned the world to chaos and void. Applying the teachings of the Hebrew Bible to stewardship of God’s creation is not just an idea for today, but essential for a future in which we achieve a balanced, worldwide ecosystem and thrive on a planet viable for all life.

Many people fear that humans have irrevocably destroyed the ecology of “Eden” on earth But God created the world out of love for life on earth, and it’s our responsibility to protect it.

We need to change the operating system that is generating humanity’s degrading of God’s creation We need to switch from greed, short-term thinking, and individualistic behavior to spiritual satisfaction, long-term thinking, and altruism. And by doing that we will address the symptoms of the problem and manifest a new earth.

Leveraging faith communities to move the needle around climate advocacy is a deeply needed and worthwhile effort,” he explained. “While the national political culture is so divided, faith is this common ground that can soften the boundaries and open hearts and minds.

To support, challenge and inspire discussions during COP 27 at Sharm El Sheikh, Climate Repentance Ceremonies will be held around the world that will be heart-stirring, transformative and a moment of inspiration for religious communities and for humanity. From this moment and event, motivation for action emerges, calling for reexamination of deep-seated attitudes and for identifying ways to transform these attitudes for the wellbeing of Earth, our common home.

Mount Sinai’s memory and meaning loom large as a place of revelation in the collective consciousness of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others. As an ancient sacred space, it was the site of prophetic experience, and receiving God’s message, for the prophets Moses and Elijah in all three Abrahamic traditions, and the prophet Muhammed in the Muslim tradition. Sinai therefore serves as an ideal location to remind humanity of our sacred responsibility to care for God’s creation.

We seek a new vision for humanity and its endangered existence, and we seek to receive and amplify a message of life-sustaining living and habits that humanity needs to hear today. In this spirit, the project partners will bring together premier religious leaders from the world’s major religions to put forth a prophetic interreligious call to action: “Climate Justice: Ten Universal Principles.”

The call’s originality in compiling the finest teachings of all religions in support of climate justice draws inspiration from the great prophetic figures associated with Mount Sinai. Teachings and spiritual ideals will be highlighted, in order to help religious communities and humanity at large open their hearts to change for our collective survival. The ceremony will draw from liturgies, readings and the musical traditions of diverse religions. The event will incorporate concrete examples of how religious communities are actively meeting the climate challenge, and feature concrete initiatives that translate the broader spiritual practices into action.

The goals of the Sinai Climate call go beyond a simple spectacle of several religions coming together. We aim to inspire and unleash the power of religions as change agents for climate action and as sources for inspiring and motivating discussions among politicians and civil bodies. Another target audience is religious communities and the wider public, who we wish to motivate to take action to curb climate change. We plan to accomplish this by inviting media to cover religious leaders’ advocacy in combating climate change. After the event, we plan to keep the movement going by generating and distributing new faith-inspired climate education materials for broad use.

The initiative is coordinated by the following coalition of organisations:

• The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development works to catalyze a transition to a sustainable, thriving, and spiritually-aware society through the leadership of faith communities. ICSD reveals the connection between religion and ecology and mobilizes faith communities to act.

• The Elijah Interfaith Institute, and its Board of World Religious Leaders, which brings together some of the world’s most prominent religious figures from Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and the Religions of India.

• The Peace Department a US non-profit designed to solve global coordination failures by making philanthropy and impact investing effective and scalable.

• The UN Environment Program’s Faith for Earth Initiative works to strategically engage with faith-based organizations and partner with them to collectively achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and fulfill the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. Climate activist Yosef Abramowitz serves as special advisor to the initiative.

 


  • About the Author
    Rabbi Yonatan Neril founded and directs The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development. Yonatan completed an M.A. and B.A. from Stanford University with a focus on global environmental issues, and received rabbinical ordination in Israel. Yonatan is coauthor of the bestselling book Eco Bible, which shines new light on how the Hebrew Bible and great religious thinkers have urged human care of nature as a central message of spiritual wisdom.