The religious left came out in force Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Accord, concerned that the decision would hurt both the poor and those affected by world hunger.
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and interfaith organizations who typically support liberal climate change policies fervently decried Trump’s decision as a death knell for the poor and a commitment to furthering global catastrophes, even those not directly related to climate change.
Leaders of various faith based and humanitarian organizations placed responsibility for the continuance of everything from sickness related deaths to world hunger squarely on Trump’s shoulders.
“The world will not be able to end hunger without addressing climate change,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread For the World Institute. “Unfortunately, President Trump’s actions today have made it that much more difficult to reach this goal.”
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, director of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, called the decision “a huge slap in the face” to the Vatican in light of Trump’s recent visit with Pope Francis, reports Religion News Service. The Pope gave Trump a copy of “Laudato Si,” his second encyclical, which warns of climate change and its global effects.
Given that supporters of leftist climate change policies have typically invoked the example of Galileo in defending those policies from religious skeptics, the left now aligning with the Catholic Church on scientific matters comes as an abrupt shift in ideology.
Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, spokesperson and national organizer for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, issued an ominous warning to Trump in light of his decision. “We reject your disdain for the wellbeing of those suffering from the impacts of a changing climate,” said Meyaard-Schaap. “We bear witness to your moral failure, and we will not forget it.”
The leaders of several Jewish organizations also denounced the decision to back out of the climate accord.
“We stand proudly as Jews who cherish the Earth to object in the strongest terms to the President’s shortsighted and damaging decision,” said Robert Bank, president and CEO of American Jewish World Service.
Pesner called for Trump “to reverse this decision and advance policies that will provide meaningful climate solutions.”
In reality, the economic effects of the Paris Agreement on those affected by poverty and world hunger is actually negative, as demonstrated in a report from The Heritage Foundation. The report asserts that staying in Paris would raise energy prices, affecting poor Americans the most.
“The result is fewer opportunities for American workers, lower incomes, less economic growth, and higher unemployment,” reads the report.
The concept that liberal climate change policies actually hurt the poor is echoed by Cornell University Professor Ravi Kanbur, whose findings assert that “efforts to mitigate climate change frequently force governments to enact policies that hurt the poor.”
Despite vociferous concern from the religious left, some evangelicals on the right, like Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg, maintain that the issue is in God’s hands.
“I believe there’s climate change. I believe there’s been climate change since the beginning of time. I think there are cycles,” Walberg said. “Do I think that man has some impact? Yeah, of course. Do I think man can change the entire universe? No. Why do I believe that? Well, as a Christian I believe that there is a creator in God who’s much bigger than us. And I’m confident that if there’s a real problem, He can take care of it.”
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