Virginia Muslims Active in Fight Against Global Warming

September 18, 2006

Source: Augusta Free Press$40562

On September 18, 2006 the Augusta Free Press reported, "'In the Koran, God said that He created nature in a balance or mizam, and that it is mankind's responsibility to maintain this fragile equilibrium,' says Richmond-based Islamic leader Dr. Imad Damaj. 'We cannot maintain it by blaming each other, but must do so by working together.'

Last week, the faith-based movement to fight global warming came to Virginia when a coalition of environmental and religious groups issued a report showing that average temperatures in the state's major cities have risen alarmingly over the last five years.

I asked Rev. Pat Watkins, one of the religious leaders involved in the announcement, why global warming is an issue for the devout.

'Global warming is an indication that God's creation is suffering a bit,' says Watkins, a Methodist clergyperson and member of the Virginia Interfaith Center. 'There are all kinds of different theologies in terms of creation. But if all people of faith understand that God had some kind of hand in creation, then how can we participate in harming creation, and how can we not do something to restore creation?'

For the last few years, religious devotees have started beating the drum louder and louder that global warming is a big threat to God's creation. Most notably, in February a group of 86 Evangelical Christian leaders released a public letter calling for more aggressive action to limit global-warming pollution, saying this was a 'pro-life' position dictated by the Gospels. Signers included Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rich Stearns, president of World Vision, and Todd Bassett, national commander of The Salvation Army.

This movement is significant because it takes climate-change activism out of liberal big cities and green-friendly states like California and into conservative, red-state America.

Last week's announcement about heating in Virginia came from U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Wetlands Watch and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and echoed the concern that religious leaders have already expressed about global warming, but with a focus on Virginia."