Friday, November 7, 2008

A look at California Interfaith Power and Light

With a name that sounds like a utility company, California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) are an activist group working on environmental green issues from a religious perspective.

Some Christians take the statements in the Bible to mean we can do anything we want with the planet, and that theological frame of mind is partly responsible for the degradation of our beautiful planet. However others take the same Bible statements to mean we are to be "faithful stewards of Creation". It seems obvious to me that the Jesus who spoke of the beauty of the Lilly in the field would recommend that we care for the planet we live on if only to encourage more beauty to live and thrive.

The mission of California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. This ministry intends to protect the earth's ecosystems, safeguard public health, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all.

They have this to say about the theological basis for stewardship: Becoming an eco-steward is engaging in spiritual practice. Our call to care for Creation is articulated similarly by a range of diverse traditions, some examples of which are provided in the following resource links on the theological basis for eco-stewardship: a) Catholic Conservation Center, b) COEJL: Jews, Jewish Texts, and Nature: A Brief History, c) Evangelical Environmental Network: Scripture, d) Islamset: Environmental Protection in Islam, e) Web of Creation: Prayers, sample sermons, resources, liturgies

They have a Green 'Congregational Covenant' and set of steps for implementing the covenant. This includes educating your congregation, conducting an energy audit, make energy efficiency improvements in the congregations buildings, utilizing green renewable power (such as purchasing carbon credits or installing solar power systems), establish tree planting programs, invest in alternative energy sources, have a goal of becoming carbon neutral, and support public policies that support the goal of ecological stewardship.

This strikes me as an achievable range of goals but perhaps not the most comprehensive. For example there is an over-focus on carbon emissions, but what about the whole range of other pollutants? Also while making efficiency improvements is a great step to take what's really required is a wholesale rethinking of how we are to live. A program like that isn't about rethinking our lives, it's about small incremental steps that don't address the longterm problem.

They have two working groups, one in Sacramento the other in the 'Peninsula/South Bay' area. Thus this group is highly focused on the San Francisco Bay Area as shown by the membership list. Another thing I see in the membership list is the heavy focus on Christian denominations. While there are a few Buddhist listings (http://www.greensangha.org/) the majority are Christian churches. I thought this is an Interfaith group? If they're so heavily denominated by Christians how is that Interfaith? Oh, wait, there's a few others including Islamic, Jewish, non-Denominational, Shamanistic, Swedenborgian, and Sufi.

Looks pretty good.

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