African Methodist Episcopal Church: Global Warming Hurts Black People

Melanie Arter | July 25, 2016 | 12:32pm EDT
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A sculpture depicting Bishop Richard Allen stands in front of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. The church marks its 200th anniversary in the city where it was founded by a former slave. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

One of the nation’s largest and oldest black churches, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is warning black people about the dangers of climate change.

The Guardian reported Sunday that the AME church “passed its first resolution in its 200-year history devoted to climate change, calling for a swift transition to renewable energy” at the church’s general conference in Philadelphia.

“We can move away from the dirty fuels that make us sick and shift toward safe, clean energy like wind and solar that help make every breath our neighbors and families take a healthy one,” the resolution stated according to the Guardian. The resolution also reportedly cited research showing that black children are four times as likely as white children to die from asthma.

“Damage to our climate puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans. We believe it is our duty to commit to taking action and promoting solutions that will help make our families and communities healthier and stronger,” the Guardian quoted Bishop John White, president of the council of bishops of the AME church, as saying in the June 24 article.

“Jesus commands us to ‘love one another’ John 13:34, and God has given us responsibility to care for His good creation (Gen. 1:28, Gen. 2:15). The burning of fossil fuels is polluting our air and waters, warming the planet and putting our seasons out of balance, with low income communities, communities of color, the children, elderly, and our faithful in the Caribbean, Africa and in rural communities bearing the greatest burden,” Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, chair of the Social Action Commission, and Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, director or Social Action Commission, said in a statement on the church’s website.

“The AME Church stands together with other faiths who are calling for urgent action on climate change on behalf of the world’s poor and God’s creation. We commit to take action and promote solutions that will help make our families and communities healthier and stronger so we and our children can live our best lives,” they said in the statement.

Dupont-Walker told the Guardian, “In communities of color, the church has been the voice on these kind of issues and we need to continue to be that voice.

“Many people may have heard that climate change is some sort of political trick – but when we speak, people will listen to us. We have an obligation to make this a focal point,” she added.

Dupont-Walker said the church’s voter mobilization campaign will work throughout this year’s election cycle to question candidates on climate change.

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