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Karenna Gore: Religious Leaders Should Urge Climate Activism on 'Moral and Spiritual Level'

Center for Earth Ethics Director Karenna Gore leads a Dakota Access Pipeline protest

WASHINGTON – Karenna Gore, director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, urged the Catholic Church and other “faith communities” to become climate change activists and preach about taking action on the issue.

“I actually think that [preaching is] one of the main things that could actually break through on this issue. One of the ways that we could break through on this issue is if people really start to think deeply on another level about it; on a moral and spiritual level and are moved from a different kind of place to take action, to raise it with their elected representatives, to make it inform their individual choices but also our political agenda, to be constantly saying, why are we building up more fossil fuels? Why don't we switch to a new renewable energy?” Gore told PJM following a discussion at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University on Monday evening.

“But preaching is, I mean, in the history of this country. And it is complex, but one of the things that has been observed from the beginning is that there are – well, I don't want to give a theory on American history but basically I do believe that church communities are places in which people can sort out deep values and then have conversations in a way that help us come to conviction on certain things,” she added.

Gore, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, compared the climate change movement to the civil rights movement.

“Look at the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement was, obviously there are many factors, but the sermons of Martin Luther King and his speeches in the language that he used evoked a kind of a moral power that really was able to galvanize people to action,” she said. “And I think that there's so much material for that in this moment of ecological crisis and climate change that surely there are those voices from pulpits that we'll be hearing more and more talking about this issue.”

Gore said the Catholic Church is “already a major player in the climate movement” because of Pope Francis.

“His words and the way in which he consistently carries this message and the beautiful document Laudato Si' have really been prophetic and important. And so I think that the best thing would be if the Catholic community in the larger sense, schools as well as houses of worship in faith communities, could really begin to go underneath the surface and teach a lot of those principles and start to be activists – because we don't have a lot of time, unfortunately, on this issue,” she said.