A call for all religious leaders to spread the word… about climate change

Can Imams Drive Action on Climate Change? At a multi-faith meeting in Islamabad last April, experts urged religious leaders to lend their voices in the fight against climate change, stating that religious leaders have the moral standing to call upon people and business to consider the environmental impact of their activities. This message has seemed to resonate broadly in a country hit hard by climate-related drought, flooding, crop-loss, and other issues. Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of Pakistan’s council of religious scholars, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that imams in Pakistan could have “unprecedented influence” in bringing about meaningful action on climate change. “We, religious leaders in Pakistan, can talk about climate change with people as long as we become knowledgeable about climate change and its other facets,” he said. The recent gathering drew leading scientists, scholars, and academics from around the world.

Charles Amjad, an American professor emeritus at the Luther Seminary in Minnesota, said relying only on political and non-governmental organization leaders to drive climate action was a mistaken approach. “We must realize that people do listen to religious scholars in mosques, priests in churches, rabbis in synagogues and pundits in Hindu temples in most developing countries, far more than they do to politicians, bureaucrats, media and mayors,” he said. “This power of faith activists must be tapped for addressing climate change. Religious leaders might urge people to use energy-efficient appliances, bicycle instead of driving, reduce the amount of water they use or help protect forests.” Bishop Samuel Azariyah, vice-chairman of the World Council of Religions, noted that most religions and scriptures – including the Quran, Bible, Torah, Gita and Vedas – call upon their followers to avoid unsustainable and irresponsible exploitation the earth’s resources, nonetheless, “humans have used them treacherously, out of greed, for relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption,” he lamented.

Ashrafi said one key to getting religious leaders to speak out on climate change is ensuring they get help to understand the issues in “the simplest possible language”. Letting leaders of different faiths learn what other religious leaders are doing on climate change would also be useful, he said. To date, imams in Pakistan have rarely been called on to speak out about climate change, something that “reflects ignorance about the unprecedented influence of the religious leaders.” Air France To Allow Crew To Opt Out Of Tehran Flights Because of Mandatory Hair Covering After an eight-year hiatus due to sanctions, Air France will begin flying into Tehran on April 17. However, employees and unions have raised some objections. Under Iranian law, women must cover their hair in public spaces and that makes some of the Air France employees uncomfortable. The debate on wearing headscarves and other religious symbols in public is particularly heated in France, which attaches special importance to the separation of state and religious institutions.

Air France released a statement last month stating, “This obligation does not apply during the flight and international airlines serving the Republic of Iran.” The airline also said it would allow female cabin crew and pilots to opt out of flying routes to Tehran after some staff said they did not want to be forced to cover their hair when in Iran. Lead Us Into Temptation A case, which began in December of 2014 with the arrest of the pastor of Elm and Hudson Church of Christ in Altus, Texas, has resulted in a confession of guilt and the conviction of Tommy Lynn Bailey for the sexual assault and molestation of a foster child who had been entrusted to his custody. The victim, who was 14-years-old when she was placed with Bailey in 2009, claims that the abuse began with inappropriate touching and kissing, but progressed to intercourse within a year. The molestation continued until 2012, all while Bailey continued to serve as his Church’s pastor.

At the time of his initial arrest, spokespeople for the church had only kind things to say about Bailey. The Interim Minister at the time, Daniel Ingram, told the local ABC news affiliate, KSWO, “Tom was a great minister. He was a minister that helped the congregation.” He added that the congregation still loves Bailey, who committed his misdeeds in a home provided by the Church. The 58-year-old Bailey will serve five years in prison and five years on probation, and he will be required to pay $7,500 fines on each of two counts and $15,000 restitution to his victim..