Stephen L. Carter's commentary on the historic vote of the national Synod of the United Church of Christ to divest from fossil fuel companies ("Hypocrites vs. Climate Change," July 21 Forum) reflects a woefully inadequate understanding of the UCC's position.
The UCC has long been concerned about humanity's neglect of God's creation. In 1987 the UCC coined the term "environmental racism" when exposing how communities of color had been intentionally selected for waste-disposal sites and polluting industrial facilities. More to Mr. Carter's point, in 2011 the UCC launched a worldwide Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast during which tens of thousands of Christians examined their personal carbon footprint and sought ways to reduce it. Hundreds of churches have reduced their carbon footprint by installing solar panels, etc., and many hold "carbon-free Sundays" where members bike or walk to church. In short, UCC churches have long known that when engaging in social critique, the first place to look is at our own complicity.
But, following Jesus' example, the divestment resolution speaks truth to power. In our society, multinational corporations -- especially the fossil fuel industry -- wield incalculable power. The campaign to protect the Earth must be waged at both the personal and structural level.
Humanity needs to leave 80 percent of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming. Humanity needs to create a moral climate -- informed by science -- that compels the most profitable industry the world has ever known to walk away from 80 percent of its assets. Part of that structural change will involve enormous transition on the consumer side, with consequences for the workforce, but this particular UCC resolution focuses on the need for structural change on the supply side. We must not insulate powerful corporations from accountability for profiting by wrecking creation.
REV. JIM ANTAL
The writer is conference minister and president of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ and author of the UCC resolution to divest from fossil fuel companies.