Causes everywhere ask us to write to politicians. If you’re like me, you seldom do. But unless we’ve all bought into the narrative of implacable political hostility and irredeemable polarization, then we’ll recognize that most people believe they’re doing the right thing, and at some level will be responsive to appeals and persuasion. Here’s my offering today, to my NJ congressional representative, Scott Garrett:
Dear Rep Garrett:
I am conscious that when writing to you, I am speaking to a person who sincerely shares my faith in Christ. Scripture says that makes us brothers in a real way, even in this world of bitter political divisions. As such, I hope to speak to you with optimism and hope, drawing on our shared vision for the rule of God on earth.
Anglican bishop N.T. Wright has given us a clear idea of how Christ-followers are to relate to their ruling officials: “Like the Israelites under their monarchy, chafing at its imperfections and looking for the fulfillment still to come, the followers of Jesus are to live under the rulers of the world, believing them to be appointed by God but not believing that that makes them perfect or that they do not need to be held accountable. On the contrary, because they are God’s servants they may well need to be reminded of their duty, however dangerous and uncomfortable a task that may be.”
So today, I hope to remind you of a duty, as a brother. I have just returned from two weeks in Paris, where I have joined with numerous Christians from around the world, praying for the success of the Paris summit, and for meaningful global action on climate. What I heard there was hopeful, but also deeply embarrassing to me as an American, and as an evangelical Christian. The narrative from virtually every quarter, including global Christians, is that only America, among all countries in the world, is prepared to sacrifice the interests of the poor to the ravages of climate pollution; and that only the GOP, of all the political parties in the world, is threatening to sabotage action that every country views as necessary to protect their people and their children; and finally, that only American evangelicals, of all the faith groups in the world, are devoted to a political “batch ideology” that lumps willful disregard for climate justice together with its more noble principles.
I know that this narrative oversimplifies the actual facts: that the National Association of Evangelicals has endorsed action on climate change as an outgrowth of care for the creation, a “core element” in the gospel; that 65 percent of American evangelicals now acknowledge the dangers of climate change; that more than half of Republican voters agree on the need for climate action. But all that means rather little if Republican lawmakers and candidates stand in the way of serious action on climate pollution.
And so I would ask you as a brother in our shared faith, to please consider that faith when your party’s leaders call for unified resistance to action so desperately needed by our world today, which are becoming increasingly undeniable with every passing year. Specifically, you could begin this by adding your name to the Gibson Resolution, whereby Republicans are making clear that they, too, recognize the crying need for climate action, on behalf of God’s suffering world and its people.
Thank you. I look forward to discussing this with you in the near future.
If you’d like to read N.T. Wright’s complete essay cited above, you can find it here. If you want to find your Congressional representative’s contact information, you can click here. For more help from Beloved Planet on writing, look here.