United Church of Christ, 1985
In 1985 in Ames, Iowa, the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted both a pronouncement and a proposal for action on National Toxic Injustice. Two years later, the UCC Commission for Racial Justice published a landmark report, "Toxic Waste and Race," which documented the conclusive evidence of the disproportionate burden of environmental ills that African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American communities bear. These actions and documents led to the coining of the term “environmental racism” and propelled denominations into the movement for environmental justice.
Pronouncement on National Toxic Injustice
Toxic injustice is defined as the deliberate unsafe production and transportation of lethal and toxic substances; or the conscious dumping of these substances into powerless, poor, and minority communities; or the wanton contamination of water, air, and other natural resources by petro-chemical and other industries.... Today, there is no greater necessity than for the Church to speak out and to confront these injustices head on.... In challenging the existence of the nation’s largest hazardous waste landfill in the nation in the poor and black community of Emelle, Alabama, the Commission for Racial Justice has played a leading role in one of the nation’s most profound social and racial justice issues...
The Fifteenth General Synod affirms the following:
- The Word of God through Jesus Christ is the active Word of life and justice. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news to the poor and to the victims of all forms of injustice.
- As Christians, we understand the theological and moral imperative to take action to challenge toxic injustice.
- We are called into the Church to be justice-seeking servants and we are called to take action to protect God’s earth and all God’s people from the evil of toxic injustice.
- We are moved by the Holy Spirit to witness and to confront the national toxic injustice crisis and to provide leadership on this issue denominationally, ecumenically, and in victimized communities.
For more information on mainline Protestant perspectives on environmental justice:
- Other mainline Protestant denominations have made statements and policies on similar topics, including: Environmental Racism/Justice, Foreign Dumping, Toxic Waste, Dumping, Black Owned Farm Land, Fair Trade Coffee, Saint Lawrence Island Yupik People, Vieques, Indigenous Rights/Perspectives, Takings, Free Trade Area of the Americas, and Corporate Responsibility. To read more, browse the Environmental Anthology of Denominational Policy by denomination or by environmental issue.
- Learn about the Black Church Environmental Justice Program of the National Council of Churches or download the Environmental Racism resource.