OGR Blog

October 18, 2019

Introduction to the Series

This introduction begins a series of articles addressing different parts of the enviro-political movement and how we, as the Office of Government Relations and Episcopalians engaged in advocacy, have been charged to tackle some of the issues facing our environment through better policy.

Carbon Tax

The Office of Government Relations has been charged to support legislative efforts that include a carbon fee or other means of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing the need for sound policy, but also the need for timely action in our first step towards reclaiming our call to care for God’s creation.

Just Transitions

As Christians, we are responsible for balancing the call to care for creation and to love and respect our neighbors around the world. Climate change is real and we must address our reliance on fossil fuels. However, plans to swiftly transition from fossil fuels cannot be comprehensive if those regions, communities, and families that depend on fossil fuels for roofs over their heads and food on their tables are not included and supported as part of that transition.

Trade Deals

While local action serves an integral role in mitigating further damage to God’s Creation, we must always keep a global perspective as those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the majority of emissions are beyond the United States. We must utilize direct and indirect international agreements to move the world’s community of nations forward together. 

Government Infrastructure

The U.S. federal government bears the duty to be a leader for institutions within the nation. When it comes to environmental degradation, it is not only important that the government implement policy to address the crisis, but also that our government lead by example with direct energy and environmental reform in federal agencies and their facilities, vehicles, and overall operation.

Clean Water

Water is one of life’s most vital resources. Water pollution, however, is devastating to the environment and to the health and well-being of people in every nation and community. The federal government invests annually in water pollution mitigation and water treatment; however, the current funding is not enough to conduct even routine maintenance and clean up pollution.

Renewable Energy

Climate change is driven in large part by changes in human behavior over the last centuries related to carbon emissions and agricultural practices. This change is due, in no small part, to human reliance on fossil fuels, deforestation, and our failure to implement alternative forms of producing and distributing energy. For so long, the answer to climate change has been made to seem clear and simple: we switch our energy systems to renewable energy now to prevent extreme weather from getting worse.

Environmental Racism

In 2018, The Episcopal Church affirmed that no community - especially poor communities, those who live closest to the land in subsistence cultures, and members of marginalized ethnic groups - should bear a disproportionate risk of environmental pollution or degradation. The Church pledged to be an advocate for policies that protect these populations, their communities, and the livelihood of their future generations from the disparate impact of climate change, environmental degradation, or unfair land use and pollution. 

Introduction to the Series This introduction begins a series of articles addressing different parts of the enviro-political movement and how we, as the Office of Government Relations and Episcopalians engaged in advocacy, have been charged to...
September 26, 2019

Note: the following information is presented in English and Spanish
Aviso: La siguiente información se presenta en inglés y en español

The Episcopal Church condemns the administration’s decision to reduce the number of refugees and further dismantle the refugee resettlement program. We also strongly condemn the decision to allow states and localities to reject refugees. The historic average for annual refugee admissions has been 95,000. The FY2020 determination of 18,000 refugees is the lowest in the forty year history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to welcome the stranger and respect the dignity of every human being. Those fleeing persecution have a particular claim on our attention and concern as they seek a life of dignity and peace in the face of oppression.

“This decision will substantially hamper the vital work of Episcopal Migration Ministries to show the love of Christ to some of the most vulnerable people in the world” said The Rev. Dr. C.K. Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church. “There are millions of displaced persons around the world. The United States has a solemn obligation to do its part to aid this problem by showing generosity to refugees. Security and compassion are not mutually exclusive.”

Communities wholeheartedly value the opportunity to welcome refugees. Allowing states and localities to ban resettlement robs them of the myriad of benefits refugees bring wherever they go. It sends the wrong message to turn our backs on refugees who could enrich, strengthen, and revitalize our cities and towns.

Episcopal Migration Ministries, this church’s ministry of welcome to our refugee friends, has walked hand-in-hand with our refugee brothers and sisters for many years, helping smooth the transition to a new life here on our shores for more than 95,000 men, women, and children.

We urge Congress, and all people of goodwill, to make their voices heard in opposition to this decision. Since its founding as a nation the United States has stood as a beacon of hope for countless endangered members of God’s family. There is still room at the table for more of these precious children of God.

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Take action by writing your members of Congress to express your support of refugee resettlement.

About Episcopal Migration Ministries:

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in The Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion. EMM’s desire to honor the inherent value of human connection brings communities together to love their neighbors as themselves.

To directly support EMM and its life-changing work, visit www.episcopalmigrationministries.org/give or text ‘EMM’ to 41444 (standard messaging and data may rates apply).

About the Office of Government Relations:

The Office of Government Relations represents the policy priorities of The Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. We aim to shape and influence policy and legislation on critical issues, highlighting the voices and experiences of Episcopalians and Anglicans globally. All policy positions are based on General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, the legislative and governing bodies of the Church.

On the web:
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations

Declaración de La Iglesia Episcopal sobre la decisión de la Casa Blanca de reducir el programa de EE.UU. de admisión de refugiados.

27 de septiembre de 2019: En respuesta a la decisión del presidente de reducir drásticamente el reasentamiento de refugiados en el año fiscal 2020 y permitir que los estados y localidades veten el reasentamiento de refugiados, La Iglesia Episcopal emitió la siguiente declaración:

La Iglesia Episcopal condena la decisión de la administración de reducir el número de refugiados y desmantelar aún más el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados. También condenamos enérgicamente la decisión de permitir que los estados y las localidades rechacen a los refugiados. El promedio histórico de admisión anual de refugiados ha sido de 95,000. La determinación del año fiscal 2020 de 18,000 refugiados es la más baja en los cuarenta años de historia del programa de EE.UU. de admisión de refugiados.

El Evangelio de Jesucristo nos pide que acojamos al extraño y respetemos la dignidad de todo ser humano. Aquellos que huyen de la persecución tienen un reclamo particular sobre nuestra atención y preocupación mientras buscan una vida de dignidad y paz frente a la opresión.
 
“Esta decisión obstaculizará sustancialmente el trabajo vital de los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración de mostrar el amor de Cristo a algunas de las personas más vulnerables del mundo”, dijo el reverendo Dr. C.K. Robertson, canónigo del obispo presidente para el ministerio más allá de La Iglesia Episcopal. “Hay millones de personas desplazadas en todo el mundo. Estados Unidos tiene la obligación solemne de hacer su parte para ayudar en este problema al mostrar generosidad a los refugiados. La seguridad y la compasión no son mutuamente excluyentes”.

Las comunidades valoran sinceramente la oportunidad de recibir a refugiados. Permitir que los estados y las localidades prohíban el reasentamiento les roba la gran cantidad de beneficios que los refugiados aportan donde quiera que vayan. Envía un mensaje equivocado de darle la espalda a los refugiados que podrían enriquecer, fortalecer y revitalizar nuestras ciudades y pueblos.

Los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración, el ministerio de bienvenida de esta Iglesia a nuestros amigos refugiados, ha caminado de la mano con nuestros hermanos y hermanas refugiados durante muchos años, ayudando a facilitar la transición a una nueva vida aquí en nuestras costas a más de 95,000 hombres, mujeres y niños.
 
Instamos al Congreso, y a todas las personas de buena voluntad, a que hagan oír su voz en oposición a esta decisión. Desde su fundación como nación, Estados Unidos se ha mantenido como un faro de esperanza para innumerables miembros de la familia de Dios en peligro de extinción. Todavía hay espacio en la mesa para más de estos preciosos hijos de Dios.

Acerca de los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración:

Los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración (EMM) viven el llamado de bienvenida al apoyar a los refugiados, inmigrantes y las comunidades que los abrazan mientras caminan juntos en el movimiento de la Iglesia Episcopal para crear relaciones amorosas, liberadoras y vivificantes enraizadas en la compasión. El deseo de los EMM de respetar el valor inherente de la conexión humana une a las comunidades para amar a sus vecinos como a ellos mismos.

Para apoyar directamente a los EMM y su trabajo que cambia la vida, visite www.episcopalmigrationministries.org/give o envíe un mensaje de texto con el mensaje ´EMM´ al 41444 (pueden aplicarse tarifas estándar de mensajes y datos).

Sobre la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales:

La Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales representa las prioridades políticas de La Iglesia Episcopal para el gobierno de EE. UU. en Washington, D.C. Nuestro objetivo es dar forma e influir en las políticas y la legislación sobre cuestiones críticas, destacando las voces y experiencias de los episcopales y anglicanos a nivel mundial. Todas las posiciones políticas se basan en las resoluciones de la Convención General y del Consejo Ejecutivo, los cuerpos legislativo y rector de la Iglesia.

En la web:

Ministerios Episcopales de Migración
Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales

Note: the following information is presented in English and Spanish Aviso: La siguiente información se presenta en inglés y en español The Episcopal Church condemns the administration’s decision to reduce the number of refugees and further...
September 4, 2019

The Episcopal Church continues to respond to the breadth of immigration issues across the United States. In addition to the ongoing work of Episcopal Migration Ministries resettling refugees, Episcopalians are engaging on supporting children and other people seeking asylum at the southern border, assisting immigrants who are undocumented, and continuing advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform.

In a recent video, The Episcopal Church: Walking with Immigrants, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry introduces five bishops whose dioceses are actively engaged in immigration ministries. Each bishop shares ways individuals or groups can support this work. Aiming to inspire action, the bishops highlight the many ways people can engage with and deepen their understanding of immigration issues.

The video ends with an overview of the advocacy and refugee resettlement work done by The Episcopal Church at the national level. The Rev. Canon C.K. Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church, speaks to the Church’s 80-year commitment to immigrants and displaced persons, which continues today through Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Office of Government Relations, and the tremendous work being carried out in parishes, dioceses, and in ministries around the country and world.

 
Read on to learn more about current immigration issues and how to take action!
 

Public Charge

On August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a rule that changes the definition of public charge, making it harder for people to be approved to enter the U.S. The rule expands the criteria for someone to be considered a public charge. This means that an immigrant may be determined to be ineligible for entry to the U.S. or may be denied a green card based on their potential or actual use of government benefits. Immigration officials will now consider additional public benefits programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, housing assistance, and all levels of cash assistance when making immigration determinations. It is clear that this rule is designed to further restrict legal immigration and to deter legal immigrants and foreign residents from utilizing programs they may need.
 
If allowed to come into effect, these changes will punish people for using benefits to help themselves and their families in times of need. If litigation does not prevent the rule from taking effect, the policy will become effective on October 15, 2019.
 
 
Action: Educate Your Community
Episcopal Migration Ministries has released a blog post detailing what you need to know about the new public charge rule, as well as resources you can share.

Protecting Immigrant Families' Public Charge Webinar

 

Family Detention Update

On Wednesday, August 21, the Trump administration announced a change in policy that will allow the government to detain migrant children indefinitely in family detention centers while families wait for their asylum cases to be heard. This reverses decades of policy: in 1997, the courts set standards on the conditions and length of detention for children, known as the Flores Settlement Agreement. The agreement established necessary guardrails for children in detention.
 
We oppose this change in policy and call for an immediate end to the unnecessary practice of family detention in response to families legally seeking protection through the asylum process. Detaining children who are escaping violence should be an absolute last resort and allowing children to stay in detention for longer periods of time would only expose children to further trauma. Even with current legal protections, there has been significant documentation of the harm children are already exposed to in our current detention system.
 
Through official policy from General Convention, the Church deplores conditions found in immigration detention centers, the overreliance on a costly prison-like detention system for immigrants, and urges the use of alternatives to detention. The Church calls for accountability and oversight to ensure detainees are provided with humanitarian treatment, adequate food and medical care, and sanitary conditions.
 
Action: Read our Statement on Family Detention
 
 

Take action to oppose proposed United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Tip Form

In February, USCIS proposed a new form which would allow the public to submit reports - even unsubstantiated reports - of alleged immigration fraud. The Episcopal Church is concerned about the potential for abuse: the form does not provide a definition of immigration fraud and allows reports to be submitted anonymously. There are already mechanisms in place to report immigration fraud, and we are concerned that the addition of this form will only serve to exacerbate targeting of immigrant communities in an already tense and divisive climate.
 
On August 8th, USCIS reopened the public comment period for 30 days. Please write today in opposition to this proposed tip form using the information below. Full information on the form and submitting comments can be found by following this link and a summary of how you can submit your comment can be found below.
 
Summary of information:
-Your comment must be emailed to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer at dhsdeskofficer@omb.eop.gov using the information below.
-Subject: USCIS Tip Form; OMB Control Number 1615-NEW; Docket ID USCIS-2019-0001
-Deadline: September 9th

Suggested language:
**We encourage you to modify the text by sharing your own thoughts and story as well**
 
"I am [Insert Name Here] writing in opposition to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposal to implement the new Form G-1530: USCIS Tip Form, OMB Control Number 1615 - NEW, Docket ID USCIS-2019-0001, published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2019. 
 
This tip form risks exacerbating tensions with immigrant communities, and I am concerned this could be abused as it does not provide a definition of fraud nor requires a name or contact information for those reporting. Additionally, as there are already other existing mechanisms in place to report fraud, such as the Homeland Security Investigation Tip Line and USCIS fraud reporting emails, I do not believe that this tip form is necessary and will create an enormous administrative burden."
 
Additional information: General Convention Policies on Sanctuary
Becoming a Sanctuary Church
Recommit to Giving Sanctuary to Immigrants
 
 

Take Action to Oppose the Elimination of Medical Deferred Action

The Administration recently announced that it will end all non-military deferred action policy, including medical deferred action. Medical Deferred Action stays the deportation of immigrants with serious medical conditions, allowing them to remain in the U.S. for two-year periods to receive life-saving medical treatment. This policy change will lead to serious negative outcomes for immigrants with a range of chronic and complex illnesses including HIV and cancer. These individuals have 33 days from the date they receive the government’s notice to leave the country or they will face formal deportation proceedings.
 
Our faith in Christ calls us to extend compassionate care and concern for all people facing serious illness. Please urge your members of Congress today to defend Medical Deferred Action to ensure these individuals continue to receive the life-giving care they need.

The Episcopal Church continues to respond to the breadth of immigration issues across the United States. In addition to the ongoing work of Episcopal Migration Ministries resettling refugees, Episcopalians are engaging on supporting children and...
August 29, 2019

Throughout our EPPN Creation Care Series, we have explored the call to love God in creation. Challenged to see the complexity of our responsibilities, we have not only learned about the need to act swiftly on energy reform and resource sustainability, but also that any action must be undertaken thoughtfully and with consideration for the impact it will have on our neighbors near and far. Movement away from current energy sources will lead to the loss of jobs and the degradation of regional cultures. A switch toward renewable energy will require land use that could affect people in their daily lives. Changes in trade and manufacturing might lead to a higher cost of products, leaving some in America unable to afford their usual goods or amenities. We are blessed to be able to see this complexity because we have learned from history and reason, and we must look toward solutions that create a better future while minimizing and addressing negative side effects.

Presiding Bishop Curry frequently teaches about the Way of Love, Jesus’ call in the New Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. The New Commandment requires Christians to fight injustice as it is antithetical to love. We must acknowledge racism’s long history in the United States that has permeated all aspects of our society and life together. One form of injustice is environmental racism, the cumulative and disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. This is exhibited in policies and plans surrounding land use, energy production, waste management, and many other ways that lead to certain communities bearing the brunt of negative environmental impacts, such as higher levels of pollution and environmental degradation. Environmental racism is also caused, in part, by intentional neglect, lack of institutional power, and low land values or economic segregation of people of color throughout American history.

This political, economic, and social disenfranchisement for non-majority populations over the entirety of America’s history has had profound cumulative and indirect effects. Low cost of land near disenfranchised populations has led to more landfills, toxic waste facilities, transportation infrastructure projects, and power plants in those areas as well as the inverse of groups only being able to afford homes in dangerous areas. This leaves minority populations more susceptible to unhealthy exposure to air and water pollution, radiation, and other contaminants in their food, water, living quarters, and workplaces without equal access to a voice in these government decisions. Significant attention has been paid in recent years to communities of color such as Flint, Michigan for the lack of public investment in clean water infrastructure, resulting in dangerous levels of lead. We have also seen widespread protests over building pipelines through or on native land. The Episcopal Church joined with the community of Standing Rock to urge the U.S. government to respect this sacred ground.

Internationally, a lack of care and concern for others has resulted in environmental racism toward the global south, those nations south of the equator. This is manifested in extractive industries that destroy habitats and ecosystems and extract natural resources without investment in the community. Electronic waste, the improper disposal of phones, computers, TV’s, tablets, et al, also hurts communities in many places around the world, particularly in South America. According to the UN, only 20% of an annual 50 metric tons of waste were properly disposed of. Europe and North America produce a combined 24 tons of electronic waste. These discarded devices end up in landfills or burned – often in the global south – where they put dangerous chemicals into the air, soil, and water.

In 2018, The Episcopal Church affirmed that no community - especially poor communities, those who live closest to the land in subsistence cultures, and members of marginalized ethnic groups - should bear a disproportionate risk of environmental pollution or degradation. The Church pledged to be an advocate for policies that protect these populations, their communities, and the livelihood of their future generations from the disparate impact of climate change, environmental degradation, or unfair land use and pollution. The Office of Government Relations called to advocate for equal treatment of all of God’s people, including in the government’s land-use practices and industrial waste and pollution effects. Most recently, the Office of Government Relations has remained committed to the charge from General Convention to protect the sanctity of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska by opposing the opening of this refuge for oil development through advocacy for H.R. 1146, repealing authorization to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One of the most difficult parts of environmental reform is that it is not straightforward. Evolving America’s energy system, mandating sustainability practice, or even change in energy and waste infrastructure can have unforeseen negative effects that are not environmental or ecological in nature. The second commandment truly is of great importance as we must love our neighbor in everything we do, including environmental policy advocacy.

In reading this EPPN Creation Care Series, we hope you have become more informed on the multidimensional solutions to the environmental crisis that faces America and the world. We thank you for joining us through this educational series, for equipping yourself with new perspectives, and for continuing to advocate in line with our call to care for God’s beautiful creation while considering Christ’s new commandment to love our neighbors.

 

Prayer:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer, For the Human Family, pg. 815

For the Oppressed
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this
land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as
their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to
eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those
who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law
and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of
us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer, For the Oppressed, pg. 826

 

Additional Resources

Throughout our EPPN Creation Care Series, we have explored the call to love God in creation. Challenged to see the complexity of our responsibilities, we have not only learned about the need to act swiftly on energy reform and resource...
August 22, 2019

Decades of scientific research has demonstrated that humans have a direct effect on the Earth’s climate. Climate change is driven in large part by changes in human behavior over the last centuries related to carbon emissions and agricultural practices. This change is due, in no small part, to human reliance on fossil fuels, deforestation, and our failure to implement alternative forms of producing and distributing energy. For so long, the answer to climate change has been made to seem clear and simple: we switch our energy systems to renewable energy now to prevent extreme weather from getting worse.

Throughout this series, we have discussed steps that could be taken to improve our stewardship of God’s creation for future generations while also considering the tradeoffs any policy decision requires. These have included the implementation of a carbon tax, offering assistance to impacted communities when shifting away from fossil fuels, and improving government infrastructure and energy efficiency. These are all steps to a greater goal, which has existed since the very first environmental and social challenges of fossil fuels and climate change: a shift to renewable energy.

The support of the federal government will be essential if we hope to transition to renewable energy, just as it was to the development of our dependence on carbon-based fuels. Ambitious policy is needed in order to support the transition away from fossil fuels and to facilitate the introduction of renewable energy. An eventual goal of attaining 100% renewable energy is ideal, and it is very important that we keep that lofty goal in our sights. In order to answer our call to care for creation, however, we have the responsibility to strategically pursue our goals through a complete and informed process.

Each form of renewable energy has drawbacks such as extensive land use, impact of manufacturing, location requirements, or habitat destruction. On a larger scale, the global community of nations must consider and plan for the stability and security of nations that are almost entirely dependent on the sale of oil and gas.

In 2009, The Episcopal Church called on the U.S. federal government to begin the transition to renewable energy by creating a renewable energy standard that is designed to increase renewable energy minimums over time. In this call, the Church recognized the need for the renewable energy industry to be granted equitable subsidies so that their infrastructure and startup costs could be even with those in fossil fuel industries.

A carbon pricing tool is partially intended to account for the full societal costs of carbon emissions. Similarly, public support for renewable energy accounts for the vast public benefits and interest in this transition. Due to its necessity and cost, renewable energy needs prompt federal government support beyond what is currently offered. The Episcopal Church is working toward a future of renewable energy as a both socially and environmentally sustainable source of energy, and we support the government’s ambitious investment in this technology and auxiliary systems such as batteries and a more efficient electric grid. Previous generations of Americans invested in coal and oil, in rural electricity, and other pieces of the technology we take for granted today. We must invest in the systems and technologies to provide for future generations.

 

Reflection:

Q. What are we by nature?
A. We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.

Q. What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
A. It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.

Q. Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?
A. From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.

The Book of Common Prayer, The Catechism, Human Nature, pg. 845

 

The Episcopal Church, through the Catechism, teaches in its first two questions that “we are part of God’s creation,” and that unique to those made in God’s image is the freedom to create, to reason, and to choose if we are to live in harmony with creation and God. The third question teaches us that the misuse of freedom and our God-given abilities leads us to live out of harmony with God and creation.

How can we use our unique freedom to reason and create to live in better harmony with creation? 

Previous generations utilized fossil fuel resources to help untold millions avoid hunger, cold, and to create modern technology and medicine. How do we, with a new understanding of fossil fuels’ impact on the climate, grapple with previous generations' and our own use of these fuels?   

How might our reason and our ability to choose provide a way for us to continue providing for a healthy economy and flourishing culture today and protect the interest of future generations?  

Decades of scientific research has demonstrated that humans have a direct effect on the Earth’s climate. Climate change is driven in large part by changes in human behavior over the last centuries related to carbon emissions and agricultural...
August 22, 2019

The Episcopal Church strongly opposes the DHS-HHS Federal Rule on Flores Agreement. As a Christian organization, our primary concern with federal policies is how they impact the most vulnerable. This rule would rollback critical child welfare protections and would undoubtedly further harm families and vulnerable children.

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry wrote, “What is the Christian way to manage borders? Strength does not require cruelty. Indeed, cruelty is a response rooted in weakness. Jesus was clear about what true strength is and it always is driven by love. There may be many policy prescriptions, but the prism through which we view them should be the same: does the policy treat people with love, acknowledging our common humanity? If the answer is no, it is not a Christian solution.”  An examination of the family detention system in the U.S. makes it clear that this is not a compassionate response for children seeking asylum with their parents.  

Detaining children who are escaping violence should be an absolute last resort, and the Flores Settlement Agreement has established necessary guardrails for children in detention. Removing this guardrail would only expose children to further harm, as there is already significant documentation of the harm children are already exposed to in our current detention system.

Through official policy from General Convention, the governing body of The Episcopal Church, the Church deplores conditions found in immigration detention centers and the over-reliance on a costly prison-like detention system for immigrants, and urges the use of alternatives to detention, and calls for accountability and oversight to ensure detainees are provided with humanitarian treatment, adequate food and medical care, and sanitary conditions. The Episcopal Church also calls for an immediate end to the inhumane practice of family detention as a response to individuals seeking protection.

The Flores Settlement Agreement is intended to ensure the safety and proper care of children in immigration detention. This is a sensible and humane effort. For while we must ensure that those who wish to do harm here or those who are smuggling drugs or trafficking human beings are stopped, border enforcement and detention policies must not come at the detriment to human life or our legal obligations to those seeking protection. The Episcopal Church urges the administration to invest in alternatives to detention rather than relying on an expensive and inhumane system of family detention.

The Episcopal Church strongly opposes the DHS-HHS Federal Rule on Flores Agreement. As a Christian organization, our primary concern with federal policies is how they impact the most vulnerable. This rule would rollback critical child welfare...
August 15, 2019

Water is one of life’s most vital resources. Water pollution, however, is devastating to the environment and to the health and well-being of people in every nation and community. The federal government invests annually in water pollution mitigation and water treatment; however, the current funding is not enough to conduct even routine maintenance and clean up pollution.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCA) releases an Infrastructure Report Card every four years, and in the most recent report in 2017, the United States scored a D on drinking water. A great deal of the low score is due to the increased water pollution and an aging drinking water infrastructure.

Proposed regulatory changes at the Environmental Protection Agency would roll back protections of permanent waterways and temporary or ad hoc waterways that feed into our major rivers and lakes and serve as drinking water sources. Removing protections for permanent waterways would expose them to runoff and other pollution from oil and gas production, mining, construction, and agriculture. This deregulation removes the responsibility from farmers and mining, drilling, or construction industries, and passes the burden resulting from those industries’ activities to all people and animals who depend on water downstream. While it may not feasible for family farms to bear the full financial burden of increased regulation, federal funds could be used to help family farms and corporations afford to clean their own pollution.

As family farms struggle to survive, it is important to recognize their benefit to their communities and to find collaborative ways to ensure environmental protection and financial sustainability. An important aspect of this is to find a balance between minimizing runoff from family farms through mitigation while also implementing programs to address the cumulative impact of runoff from all family farms. One common criticism of the Obama Administration’s policy was that drainage ditches on family farms would be regulated the same as rivers passing industrial mining sites. The two types of water passages are not the same and may require different approaches. Family farms represent a critically important part of the nation’s food security and as a result, unlike large corporate entities, a different balance between private mitigation and public cleanup efforts may be necessary.

It is important to remember the very real danger and slippery slope that water pollution causes. It was just a few decades ago that President Nixon signed into law the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency because we allowed our rivers and lakes to be polluted to the point that rivers caught on fire. Decades ago the urgency and necessity of protecting water brought bipartisan support from every corner of the country.

In The Episcopal Church, we collectively rely on the life-giving water of Baptism and individually, we rely on clean water to sustain our daily life and to grow our food. Water, because of its necessity, should be a human right given to all of God’s children. The Episcopal Church, through the General Convention, has tasked the Office of Government Relations with advocating for policies that ensure accessibility of clean water for all people.

We recognize that ensuring access to clean water cannot be achieved through a single approach. Therefore, we have been called to work on public policy that improves funding for water treatment and infrastructure, protections for water in oceans, lakes, and streams from point or indirect sources, and resiliency to extreme weather and population increases.

 

Prayer and Reflection:

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water.
Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage
in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus
received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy
Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death
and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

                                -The Book of Common Prayer

 

How does your church community rely on clean water?
What is particularly special about clean water to both our faith and our pursuit for environmental justice?

 

Additional Resources

Creation Care
The Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN)
Creation Justice Ministries Resources on Water

 

Water is one of life’s most vital resources. Water pollution, however, is devastating to the environment and to the health and well-being of people in every nation and community. The federal government invests annually in water pollution mitigation...
August 8, 2019

The U.S. federal government bears the duty to be a leader for institutions within the nation. When it comes to environmental degradation, it is not only important that the government implement policy to address the crisis, but also that our government lead by example with direct energy and environmental reform in federal agencies and their facilities, vehicles, and overall operation.

In 2015, President Obama issued an executive order which required federal agencies to comply with new environmental standards, including a significant reduction of energy and water use in many federal buildings. Federal facilities were required to either construct new green buildings that would be energy, waste, and water net-zero buildings or to upgrade buildings to meet the same standard. In May of 2018, President Trump repealed that executive order with a new executive order that only asks agencies to set their own sustainability goals. While the order maintains a commitment to sustainability, it does not mandate any action from agencies other than offering a guideline to decrease energy and water use.

The Administration’s decisions to repeal substantial sustainability rules fail to address the responsibility of all people to care for God’s creation. The Episcopal Church has long stood for the adoption of a permanent federal renewable energy standard through incremental progression in energy and water conservation. In a 2009 resolution, the Church called the Office of Government Relations to support federal policy that includes programs that exemplify this dutiful stewardship of creation at a federal government level. The Episcopal Church, therefore, supports policy that would call for the conversion of public buildings to renewable energy, using renewable energy to operate public transportation, and the implementation of water conservation practices in public buildings. It is crucial that our government find ways to lead the United States and our planet to be more conscious of the impact we have on the environment and the ways we can institutionally mitigate our damage.

 

Reflection

Just as legislators have been called to serve their nation in its best interest, we have been called to serve the world in Christ’s name. Serving the world in Christ’s name is risky. The immediate reward is not always evident, but the eventual yield is always great. We are disciples of a master who risked everything in order to redeem the world, and at times we too must embrace the risk to achieve redemption. Sometimes it may feel crazy, but as our climate changes, it is even crazier to think that we can allow everything to remain the same. Our potential to make a substantive change is far too great.

                - Derived from “Resurrection Matters” by The Rev. Nurya Love Parish

Can you think of a time where you took a risk and had to give it time in order to reap the benefit? Why was this challenging and why was it rewarding?

What do you think holds you back from making substantive changes in your life? Do you think the same thing affects our governing institutions?

 

Additional Resources

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government Framework
Department of Energy Comprehensive Annual Energy Data and Sustainability Performance by Department
Episcopal Church Creation Care

The U.S. federal government bears the duty to be a leader for institutions within the nation. When it comes to environmental degradation, it is not only important that the government implement policy to address the crisis, but also that our...
August 1, 2019

While local action serves an integral role in mitigating further damage to God’s Creation, we must always keep a global perspective as those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the majority of emissions are beyond the United States. America is neither the world’s greatest victim nor the world’s sole hope. It must, however, use the resources and power available to help lead.

We must utilize direct and indirect international agreements to move the world’s community of nations forward together. Direct methods, such as the Paris Accords, are an important comprehensive step, as they create forums for scientists, diplomats, and civil society organizations to build mutual goals. Indirect methods, such as clauses in trade deals, can be helpful so that no nation has to take unilateral steps that might have negative short-term economic impacts. Trade deals are usually designed with enforcement mechanisms which can further decrease the economic risk of change by ensuring all parties change together. Just as God knows no boundaries in creation, our responsibility to love our neighbors does not stop at political boundaries or the current generation’s interest alone.

The United States has significant trading power, and if the U.S. prioritized the intrinsic value and global goals related to environmental standards and safe working conditions, this could shift the international market to favor products and labor standards that give dignity to all humans and respect toward God’s creation. These aspects are currently addressed in many trade deals; however, they are addressed through the perspective of balancing the economic playing field between the U.S. and nations with lower standards. While this is important on worker protections, greater ambition is needed to set joint standards that will make significant progress toward addressing global climate. Trade deals can and must more substantially address environmental costs. 

The Episcopal Church has recognized that economic policy has direct effects and consequences for all humans and that it is necessary to facilitate global economies in consideration of God’s Creation. Trade gives nations the opportunity to affect the entire world economically, environmentally, and socially by allowing nations to select products and trading partners that align with their goals and initiatives, resources, and production capacity. This approach is commonly referred to as a triple bottom line, bringing the environmental and social impacts of trade deals to equal footing with the economic bottom line.

The Episcopal Church supports trade policies that prevent environmental degradation. If the U.S., along with other large trading powers, commit to a set of sustainable principles to guide trading policies, then other nations and corporations will be incentivized to be more sustainable. Mutual commitment, through enforceable agreements, also significantly reduces the risk associated with unilateral action on an exclusively economic bottom line. There could be economic risk associated with major unilateral reforms, but we have seen the benefits of regional collaboration in places like the European Union where environmental and economic policy have been coordinated by 28 nations. The climate crisis today requires coordinated global action by all industrialized economies and trade pacts can be a powerful mechanism to accomplish this goal.

To act as Christians is to ensure that our actions respect the dignity of all of God’s people, and this includes reversing and avoiding even worse environmental damage that decreases the standard of living of all. As part of The Episcopal Church’s resolution to encourage sound environmental practice through trade, the Church also recognizes the importance of ensuring these practices include the protection of human rights for all workers.

Economic markets exist to give agency to consumers and trading bodies, and the Church believes that all economic activity should contribute to the well-being of all persons, serve the poor, and promote the dignity and right of humans. The Office of Government Relations is, therefore, charged to support trade policy which emphasizes engagement with nations that take seriously their duty to be stewards of creation while promoting the dignity and rights of all human beings.

 

Reflection:

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.  As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise.  To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.  We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Toward this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations. -  The Earth Charter, June 29, 2000

 

The Earth Charter calls for a “culture of peace.” How does stewardship for the earth, our island home, foster the development of such a culture?

What possible ways can you use your market power to ensure that you are not supporting environmental degradation or neglect of humans in the workplace?

Take action today and take the Pledge to Care for Creation!

While local action serves an integral role in mitigating further damage to God’s Creation, we must always keep a global perspective as those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the majority of emissions are beyond the United States...
July 26, 2019

“Jesus told us that the greatest gift we could give is to lay down our own lives for another. Conversely, the taking of another life must be viewed as the greatest sacrilege.” The Most Reverend Edmond L. Browning, XXIV Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

“If it is not about love, it is not about God” The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, XXVII and Current Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

On July 25th, the Attorney General announced the Trump Administration’s intention to begin carrying out federal executions for the first time since 2003. Since 1958, The Episcopal Church has taught that the sacredness of life requires that no individual or group of individuals have the right to unnecessarily take the life of another person. The taking of a human life can be necessary in self-defense and war, but as retribution for even the most heinous crimes it is not justified.

In ages past, prior to the development of modern prison systems, execution was a method to protect the community from future crimes. St. Paul recognized the reality of this necessity to use force to restrain greater evil. Even in this scenario, execution was not the right or prerogative of the state, but a necessity for communal safety that no longer exists.

Even if our justice system never wrongly convicted, condemned, and killed an innocent person, even if our justice system was equitable in sentencing, capital punishment would not be justified. The death penalty is not theologically justifiable, in part because it is not necessary for the protection of innocent people and the state cannot morally justify killing for the sake of vengeance. In the Old Testament, animal and human sacrifice was used to reestablish the moral balance that sin destroyed by making an offering of those animals and people to God. Christ’s death atoned for all human sin, past, present, and future, thus reestablishing moral balance for all time.

The premeditated and unnecessary killing of a person is unchristian and beyond the legitimate powers of the state. Therefore, The Episcopal Church condemns the decision by the Administration to execute prisoners. We call on the President to reverse this decision and utilize his Constitutional power to commute the sentences of all those condemned to death to life in prison without parole.

___

The Office of Government Relations encourages Episcopalians to read and reflect on:

The report to the 73rd General Convention by the Standing Commission on National Concerns article on capital punishment, found on page 357 as numbered which is page 25 of the PDF, from which the Biblical and theological basis of this statement is drawn.

Former Presiding Bishop Browning’s Open Statement on Capital Punishment of 1990.

A joint Pastoral Letter from the Episcopal Bishop and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta in response to the Supreme Court’s 1976 restoration of the death penalty.

Read below for a narrative summary of Episcopal Church policies on the death penalty:

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, the Church’s legislative governing body, first expressed formal opposition to the death penalty in 1958. The Convention of 1958 expressed its opposition to the death penalty claiming that individual life is of great worth in the eyes of God. The resolution passed by that Convention, noted that the taking of human lives falls only within the providence of the Lord, not within that of humans. This action from the Church came in support of a movement among states to abolish capital punishment individually.

In 1979, The Episcopal Church reaffirmed is opposition to capital punishment, charging people and dioceses of the Church to actively work to advocate for its abolition in their individual states. The Church similarly reaffirmed their opposition to the death penalty in 1991, adding that the Presiding Bishop, Edmond L. Browning, would send a statement on capital punishment to Congress, the President, and the Attorney General. The Episcopal Church has continued to stand by its opposition in 2000, where it also called for an immediate moratorium on the use of capital punishment, as well as again in 2015. At the most recent General Convention in 2018, the Church called for all persons sentenced to death in the United States to have their sentenced reduced, consistent with The Episcopal Church’s historic death penalty opposition.

The continued calls of The Episcopal Church to abolish the death penalty are evidence of the Church’s commitment to the Christian Doctrine of redemption and the intrinsic value of all life. In order to truly abolish the death penalty, federal legislation is necessary. This legislative action however, will only come from a change of hearts. As Christians, called to God’s mission of love, and Episcopalians, who have long opposed the notion of capital punishment, our responsibility is to advocate and educate in order to portray a loving Christian nature in all of our actions, and to call our government to do the same.

“Jesus told us that the greatest gift we could give is to lay down our own lives for another. Conversely, the taking of another life must be viewed as the greatest sacrilege.” The Most Reverend Edmond L. Browning, XXIV Presiding Bishop of The...