Faith leaders mark MLK birthday with White House pray-in for climate

((Photo: Reuters / Jason Reed))

Faith leaders, including the former head of National Council of Churches the Rev. Bob Edgar, is participating in a pray-in for the climate at the White House today that calls on President Obama to lead the country away from the "Climate Cliff." The event coincides with the 84th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. because faith leaders believe climate is a "social justice" issue.

The group behind the event, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, will hold a multi-faith service at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. and begin marching to the White House at 12 noon. The prayer vigil at the White House will begin 12:30 p.m.

Leaders from various faith traditions, including Christian (Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic) Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu are expected to join the pray-in.

Event organizers were inspired by the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.... Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late'."

"The way we respond to our warming planet is absolutely an issue of social justice," said Rev. Bob Edgar, CEO Common Cause and former head of National Council of the Churches, in a press release on the event. "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often invoked 'the fierce urgency of now' in calling people to action, and nowhere are his words more relevant than in the moral Imperative we share as people of faith to take decisive action against climate change."

Faith leaders have also signed a letter, "Call to Action: Pray-in for the Climate," calling President Obama to lead the country away from what they call the "Climate Cliff." It asks Obama to permanently refuse permits for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, call a National Summit Conference on the Climate Crisis that includes leaders across faith and industry lines, and publicly support and advocate for a carbon fee that will generate hundreds of billions of dollars.

"Out of our moral commitment to protect and heal God's Creation, our religious communities need to be calling for a set of first-step changes that will sow the seeds of greater change, by committing the President and Congress to vigorous action. And we should pose those demands in such a way that we are addressing not only our government, but also religious communities throughout the country," reads the letter, which currently has 340 signatures.

Leaders Participating on January 15th:

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chairperson, Buddhist Global Relief
Patrick Carolan. Executive Director at Franciscan Action Network
Rev. Richard Cizik, President of The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
Rev. Bob Edgar, CEO, Common Cause; Former head of National Council of the Churches
Rev. Michael Ellik, Judson Memorial Church, NYC; Occupy Faith/Occupy Sandy
 Green Hevra Community members
Dr. James Hansen
Allen Johnson, Christians for the Mountains
Rev. Philip Lawson, Pastor Emeritus, Easter Hill UMC Church, Oakland, CA; National Council of Elders
Rev. John Merz, Vicar, Ascension Episcopal Church Brooklyn, NY; Occupy Faith/Occupy Sandy
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Social Justice Organizing Program, Re-constructionist Rabbinical College
Iman Johari Abdul-Malik, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, Washington, DC
 Nipponzan Nyohoji Buddhist Community
Jacqui Patterson, NAACP – Director, Environmental and Climate Justice Program
Chett Pritchett,Interim Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Sikh Council on Religion and Education
Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Temple Hesed of Scranton, PA
Father Louie Vitale OFM, Franciscan Friar, Co-founder Nevada Desert Experience
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., President, HipHop Caucus, Washington, DC

Endorsing Leaders and Organizations include:

The Bridge in Tampa
Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK
Christians for the Mountains
Environmental Headlines
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Franciscan Action Network
Green Zionist Alliance
Hindu American Seva Communities
Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee), President, The Morning Star Institute
Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY)
Interreligious Eco-Justice Network of CT
Jewish Peace Fellowship
Fred Krueger, National Religious Coalition on Creation Care
Chief Oren Lyons, Faith keeper, Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation
Bill McKibben
The Very Rev. James Parks Morton, former Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; Founder, The Interfaith Center, NYC
National Council of the Elders
National Religious Coalition on Creation Care
People of the Onondaga Nation
Promoting Enduring Peace
Religious Organizations Along the River (ROAR)
The Shalom Center
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region

On the Web:

Read the full letter: "Call to Action: Pray-in for the Climate"

Visit the Interfaith Action on Climate Change website

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