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A Religious Call to Civil Disobedience on Thursday, March 21, 2013
Action on climate change is heating up this spring. Announced here is a very important event coming up. It is time for civil disobedience around climate change.

By Arthur Waskow

Editor's Note: The following was received from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center. Details of the March 21 interfaith gathering are provided toward the bottom of this letter along with sponsors.

Dear Friends,

At noon on March 21, religiously and spiritually rooted Americans of all traditions will gather at the White House for a moral act of loving nonviolent civil disobedience. This action, organized by the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC), will make clear to President Obama that his inspired pledge to halt the destruction of the Earth from climate change requires that he take bold and courageous actions, including rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

As religious leaders and individuals who recognize the moral imperative of taking unified, visible action to ensure that our nation’s leaders act responsibly to address climate change, we invite you to join us at the White House on March 21st, either to engage in civil disobedience, or to stand with others in a circle of support for those who do choose to risk arrest.

Our March 21st action will occur at a critical moment: Many of our religious communities will be preparing for Passover and Holy Week. (Palm Sunday begins Holy Week on March 24; the first night of Passover is on Monday, March 25), even as our President faces a profound decision that will affect our planet – teetering on the edge of a climate tipping point – and the human communities throughout the Earth already suffering the effects of the climate crisis and threatened with more and worsening disasters.

As we observe the upcoming holy days, our ancient sacred wisdoms remind us that top-down power must be called to account for us to win through to the Promised Land, the Beloved Community.

Super-storm Sandy, the drastic droughts in our corn country, record-breaking Arctic ice melt, disasters in Australia, Russia, Pakistan and Africa, and the realization that 2012 was the hottest year on record all warn us: the disruption of our planet will not wait for our “normal” political paralysis to end.

We are inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was among the leaders of a profoundly religious and spiritual movement to heal us from the great dangers of war and injustice in his day:
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’.
And we take note that even a leading secular journalist, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, has called for civil disobedience to insist on strong measures to heal the climate crisis.

If we go over the Climate Cliff now, experiencing Plagues in our own generation as the Bible describes the Ten Plagues – all eco-disasters – long ago, our grandchildren will live in misery and suffering.

Today’s Plagues endanger the web of life upon our planet, including the human race – and inflict the greatest harm on the poorest and most vulnerable among us. We are especially concerned by the effects on local communities and our planetary future of destructive, extreme energy extraction: mountaintop removal, fracking, Arctic and deep sea offshore oil drilling, and Tar Sands mining.

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.

As we prepare for civil disobedience at the White House, we address not only our government, but also religious communities throughout the country: In the name of Creator Spirit, Holy One of Being – JOIN US!

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On Thursday, March 21st - at Lafayette Park (directly across from the White House on Pennsylvania Ave., NW) we will gather carrying three sacred symbols:
  • The Palms that greeted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, – green fronds of life to challenge the deadliness of the Roman Empire;
  • The Matzoh, unleavened bread that began as the food of the poor and afflicted but became the bread of life and freedom when the People of Israel hurried forth in the fierce urgency of Now.
  • The Globe of the planet we share, God’s Creation – for all our traditions, a symbol of sharing and wholeness of the Earth for which we sing:

    “We’ve got the whole world in our hands,
    We’ve got rivers and mountains in our hands,
    We’ve got frogs and polar bears in our hands,
    We’ve got our children and their children in our hands
    We’ve got the whole world in our hands!”
What will we be urging that the President do to meet the needs of this critical hour in planetary time? He must take actions necessary to heal our communities and the Earth, such as these:

1. Permanently refuse permits for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, because tar-oil is among the most dangerous of the planet-heating forms of carbon.

2. Call now a National Summit Conference on the Climate Crisis to meet with the urgency that the crisis demands – including leaders of business, labor, academia, religious communities, governmental officialdom, science, and other relevant bodies.

3. Publicly support and advocate for a carbon fee that will generate hundreds of billions of dollars, with provisions to ensure that working families and the poor are not harmed by higher carbon prices; for an end to subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries; and for substantial subsidies for research, development, and use of renewable, sustainable and jobs-creating clean energy sources.

In the Name of the God whose Names are many, we invite and urge you to join us on March 21st at the White House.

With blessings of shalom, salaam, pax, paz, peace,

Members of the IMAC Steering Committee


Rev. Tom Carr, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Hartford, CT, Interreligious Eco Justice Network, CT
Rev. Terry Ellen, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region
Ted Glick, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Cynthia Harris, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
Dr. Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Fr. Paul Mayer, Climate Crisis Coalition
Ibrahim Ramey, Muslim American Freedom Society
Karen Scott, Center for Liberty of Conscience
Lise Van Susteren, MD, Advisory Board of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, National Wildlife Federation
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, The Shalom Center
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Director of Social Justice Organizing at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Catherine Skopic, Episcopal Diocese of New York




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Date Added: 3/12/2013 Date Revised: 3/12/2013 2:49:43 PM

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