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Interfaith’revival” links voting rights and climate ahead of midterm elections | Earthbeat

Interfaith’revival” links voting rights and climate ahead of midterm elections | Earthbeat

Icicles hang from a frozen U.S. flag on the front porch of a home in Waynesville, North Carolina, Dec. 26, 2020. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Icicles hang from a frozen U.S. flag on the front porch of a home in Waynesville, North Carolina, Dec. 26, 2020. (CNS/Bob Roller)

On the front porch in Waynesville (North Carolina), Dec 26, 2020, Icicles hang on a frozen U.S. flag. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Ten months before the 2022 midterm elections, faith leaders in South are planning a “revival effort” to reenergize voters around what they consider two critical issues: climate change (also known as voting rights) and the environment.

On Jan. 20, the Southeast Faith Leaders Network launched its first ever “climate revival.” The yearlong campaign is targeted on four states — Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina — that organizers say are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change as well as efforts to suppress voting access.

“Those two issues are just interlocking,” Alecia Brewster, program director for South Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, told EarthBeat.

“The changes that are required [on climate change]Everyone has the right to speak up. So the vote is the best way to give everyone a voice.” she stated.

The campaign plans to hold numerous state-based workshops over the next few months to examine both climate effects and local voting realities. It will also train voters on how to register, educate, mobilize and protect them. A summit on climate resilience will be held in the fall.

EarthBeat spoke with several organizers, who stated that the U.S. Senate elections will be the main focus. The Cook Political ReportThe open Senate seat in North Carolina, and the race involving Sen. Rafael Warnock (Georgia) rank as toss-ups, while the races in Alabama for the open seat and Sen. Tim Scott’s reelection in South Carolina are solidly Republican.

In addition to South Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, other groups that are part of the Southeast Faith Leaders Network include the Alabama and Georgia chapters of Interfaith Power & Light, the North Carolina Council of Churches, and Creation Justice Ministries, a D.C.-based national organization that is helping coordinate the campaign. The climate revival campaign also has the support of the Poor People’s Campaign and Sojourners.

Other faith-based environmental groups have also linked solutions to climate change to the cause of voting rights. The Catholic Climate Covenant supported federal voting rights legislation just days before it was being debated in Congress.

“As an organization lifting up care for creation and climate action from the foundation of the Catholic faith, we recognize that a functioning democracy is critical to creating the solutions we seek for the common good and our common home,” Covenant leaders Jose Aguto and Dan Misleh said in a joint statement on Jan. 18.

2021 was the sixth-hottest year on record. Amassed 20 separate billions-dollar climate and weather disasters totaling $145 billion — the third highest year of costs. At least 19 states, including Georgia and Alabama, were represented by Republican legislators as they dealt with the aftermath of these weather-related disasters. More than 30 laws were passedThis limited the vote by mail, reduced polling hours and locations, and added registration requirements.

Voters in Marietta, Georgia, line up to cast their ballots in the U.S. Senate runoff election Jan. 5, 2021. (CNS/Reuters/Mike Segar)

Voters in Marietta (Georgia) line up to vote in the U.S. Senate Runoff Election Jan. 5, 2021. (CNS/Reuters/Mike Segar)

The Rev. said that communities of color are more concerned about climate change than white Americans because of their experiences with flooding and severe storms. Michael Malcom, a United Church of Christ minister and founder of Alabama Interfaith Power & Light.

A 2020 surveyYale University and George Mason University discovered that 70% of Hispanic Americans, 57% of Black Americans, and 49% of white Americans are concerned or alarmed about climate change. Hispanics and Black Americans were more likely than white Americans to support a campaign calling for government action on climate.

These communities need to be prepared for disasters and resilient to climate impacts, Malcom stated.

Brewster said that Charleston, South Carolina has been affected by flooding in recent years.

She said that Charlesston has “really kind of led the charge because of the direct effect they are having,”

Malcom and she both acknowledged the difficulty of getting more people in Alabama, South Carolina, to talk about climate change and take it into consideration when voting.

A house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is surrounded by flood waters Sept. 17, 2020, after Hurricane Sally swept through the area. (CNS/Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)

After Hurricane Sally, a hurricane that swept through Gulf Shores, Alabama on September 17, 2020, flood waters surrounded a house. (CNS/Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)

Malcom stated that the climate revival was a way for faith leaders and prophets to “flip the script” and get more people talking about climate changes, and to push decision-makers to implement solutions.

The revival is not just about elevating climate change alongside voting right as a central issue to voters in the 2022 Midterm Elections, but also as an opportunity to lift dejected spirits following several large legislative losses in the recent months.

Among them was the inability of Senate Democrats to overcome their filibuster to pass Freedom to Vote Act (John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act) and to reach agreement on the Build back Better Act, which includes $555 billion in provisions related to Climate Change.

“We are in a place where people are discouraged,” Malcom said. Malcom said that there have been some significant losses and that they need to be hopeful. “This is the time to help faith communities to take part in the fight for freedoms, fight for a better environment, and fight for healthier communities. This is the right time to do this.”

The climate revival campaign was launched with a webinar on January 20. The panel featured a number of speakers, including Rev. Lennox Yearwood, of the Hip Hop Caucus was there, and Randy Woodley, a respected professor of faith at Portland Seminary and a public atheist at Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice, and Eloheh Farm. Karenna Gore is the founder of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

A webinar on Jan. 20 kicks off the climate revival campaign organized by the Southeast Faith Leaders Network. (EarthBeat screenshot)

The Southeast Faith Leaders Network’s climate revival campaign kicks off with a webinar Jan. 20. (EarthBeat screenshot)

“We must recognize this [climate]Crisis is not only about science and technology, although they are equally important. It is a moral, spiritual predicament,” Gore stated. He added that it is not enough to simply notice and condemn the problem.

This is a message to us: “The people who suffer the most from climate changes are the ones who have done the least to create it.” … We must recognize that the solution is for those who are marginalized and made invisible to be counted. They must be valued and it must be easier for them all to vote.

The Rev. said that long-standing efforts to limit the right to vote have “become like a mutation gene that continues to show itself in our present.” President of Sojourners, Adam Taylor. This attack on democracy “will sabotage all our efforts to care about Mother Earth and advance climate justice.”

Taylor stated that despite setbacks in legislative legislation and the spread of election falsifications, revivals are good news.

He stated, “And the great news is that unlike fossil-fuels, social and politically will are renewable ressources, our voices, our protest is renewable resource, and our voices are renewable sources, and our voice is a renewable source.”

“Let’s all work together to ignite a revival using the renewable resource of our activism to protect the right vote as being sacred so that we can save our planet and create a beloved community where everyone can thrive.”

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