- Food and Agriculture
- Sustainable Economies
- Urban Life
- Environmental Health
- Environmental Justice
- Climate and Air
- Living Creatures
Each denomination has its own basis and process for determining its official positions, if any, on matters of public policy. There is thus no single, authoritative statement of the basis for all Protestant environmental policy positions. However, in February 2004, a group of theologians convened by the National Council of Churches of Christ USA (NCC) used an open letter calling on Christians to repent of "our social and ecological sins" and to reject teachings that suggest humans are "called" to exploit the Earth without care for how our behavior impacts the rest of God's creation.
This ecumenical statement included the following set of moral principles for social and environmental ethics:
Guiding Norms for Church and Society
These affirmations imply a challenge that is also a calling: to fulfill our vocation as moral images of God, reflections of divine love and justice charged to "serve and preserve" the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Given this charge and the urgent problems of our age — from species extinctions and mass poverty to climate change and health-crippling pollution — how shall we respond? What shall we be and do? What are the standards and practices of moral excellence that we ought to cultivate in our personal lives, our communities of faith, our social organizations, our businesses, and our political institutions? We affirm the following norms of social and environmental responsibility...
Justice:creating right relationships, both social and ecological, to ensure for all members of the Earth community the conditions required for their flourishing. Among human members, justice demands meeting the essential material needs and conditions for human dignity and social participation. In our global context, economic deprivation and ecological degradation are linked in a vicious cycle. We are compelled, therefore, to seek eco-justice, the integration of social justice and ecological integrity. The quest for eco-justice also implies the development of a set of human environmental rights, since one of the essential conditions of human well being is ecological integrity. These moral entitlements include protection of soils, air, and water from diverse pollutants; the preservation of biodiversity; and governmental actions ensuring the fair and frugal use of creation's riches.
Sustainability:living within the bounds of planetary capacities indefinitely, in fairness to both present and future generations of life. God's covenant is with humanity and all other living creatures "for all future generations" (Genesis 9:8-17). The concern for sustainability forces us to be responsible for the truly long-term impacts of our lifestyles and policies.
Bioresponsibility: extending the covenant of justice to include all other life forms as beloved creatures of God and as expressions of God's presence, wisdom, power, and glory. We do not determine nor declare creation's value, and other creatures should not be treated merely as instruments for our needs and wants. Other species have their own integrity. They deserve a "fair share" of Earth's bounty — a share that allows a biodiversity of life to thrive along with human communities.
Humility: recognizing, as an antidote to arrogance, the limits of human knowledge, technological ingenuity, and moral character. We are not the masters of creation. Knowing human capacities for error and evil, humility keeps our own species in check for the good of the whole of Earth as God's creation.
Generosity: sharing Earth's riches to promote and defend the common good in recognition of God's purposes for the whole creation and Christ's gift of abundant life. Humans are not collections of isolated individuals, but rather communities of socially and ecologically interdependent beings. A measure of a good society is not whether it privileges those who already have much, but rather whether it privileges the most vulnerable members of creation. Essentially, these tasks require good government at all levels, from local to regional to national to international.
Frugality: restraining economic production and consumption for the sake of eco-justice. Living lives filled with God's Spirit liberates us from the illusion of finding wholeness in the accumulation of material things and brings us to the reality of God's just purposes. Frugality connotes moderation, sufficiency, and temperance. Many call it simplicity. It demands the careful conservation of Earth's riches, comprehensive recycling, minimal harm to other species, material efficiency and the elimination of waste, and product durability. Frugality is the corrective to a cardinal vice of the age: prodigality — excessively taking from and wasting God's creation. On a finite planet, frugality is an expression of love and an instrument for justice and sustainability: it enables all life to thrive together by sparing and sharing global goods.
Solidarity: acknowledging that we are increasingly bound together as a global community in which we bear responsibility for one another's well being. The social and environmental problems of the age must be addressed with cooperative action at all levels-local, regional, national and international. Solidarity is a commitment to the global common good through international cooperation.
Compassion: sharing the joys and sufferings of all Earth's members and making them our own. Members of the body of Christ see the face of Christ in the vulnerable and excluded. From compassion flows inclusive caring and careful service to meet the needs of others. (From "God's Earth is Sacred: An Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States.")