Is God Green?

A woman and her child pray while lighting candles before the start of the evening song at Trinity Church in Manhattan. (EPA Photo/Kasia Broussalian)

By Elias Rodriguez

New York City is a great venue for houses of worship. Whether one attends a mosque, a temple, a synagogue, a cathedral or a park bench – the city that never sleeps prides itself as a religious refuge displaying a multicultural mosaic of faith traditions, holy books and soulful people.

In the beginning God said, well, a bunch of stuff. What the Almighty said about sustainability and stewardship of the Earth is particularly intriguing reading material. For instance, in the book of Genesis, readers are instructed to “replenish the earth, and subdue it,” and “to have dominion” over all animal life. Some theologians interpret this as an edict to exercise responsible and sensitive stewardship over a planet that belongs to future generations. They posit that we are to manage our air, land and water as conscientious custodians.  Conversely, other scholars take the origin declaration as a command to exploit all natural resources as a gift for the advancement and enjoyment of humanity as the supreme rulers over all of creation.  They propose that these words represented a mandate to freely master all of the Earth’s vast resources and supplies without fear or inhibition. This scriptural dichotomy has been controversial for ages and is not likely to be settled by the current generation.

People rest on the benches outside of St. Paul's Chapel in downtown Manhattan. (EPA Photo/Kasia Broussalian)

For agnostics, atheists and believers alike, EPA offers a host of helpful tools and aids. Our ENERGY STAR for Congregations initiative provides resources that reduce utility costs without being too preachy. Most congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30% by investing strategically in efficient equipment, facility upgrades and maintenance. You can improve stewardship of your congregation’s energy dollars and reduce energy, while protecting the environment.

More recently, EPA joined the White House’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for communities. The initiative works to connect similar faith-based and neighborhood organizations working on environmental projects with one another, building a network of communities across the country in support of environmental literacy and stewardship.

Regardless of whether or not you think the Earth or any earthling needs salvation, we can all agree that showing our planet a little love is a gracious act by any standard.