June 5, 2020
Contact: Shantha Ready Alonso firstname.lastname@example.org, 760-408-0688 (cell)
Creation Justice Ministries Rebukes Decision by Trump Administration to Rollback Protections for Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument
Washington, DC - Today, President Trump rolled back protections on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. This decision comes on World Environment Day, and on the fifth day of National Ocean Month.
Christians strongly support upholding national monument protections, and many specifically urged President Trump to uphold the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. New England-based faith-based organizations including the Rhode Island Council of Churches and Inter-religious Eco-Justice Network of Connecticut strongly backed the national marine monument proposal throughout 2016, having offered a public prayer service, a teach-in with scientists at Save the Bay in Providence, delivered supportive sign-on letters, published opinion media pieces, a Massachusetts kids’ ocean conservation art campaign, and participated in stakeholder meetings leading up to the monument designation.
Interim Executive Minister for the Rhode Island State Council of Churches Rev. Chontell N. Washington offered the following response: “The Rhode Island State Council of Churches (RISCC) is saddened to hear the announcement that President Trump is rolling back vital protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. We worked very hard with many other faith-based and environmental organizations to enact legislation that protected this vital marine life area. As God’s stewards of this beautiful planet, we will continue to stand with Creation Justice Ministries and all others fighting the rollback of this monument as well as loss of protection for this diverse and important marine habitat.”
Pastor of New Roots African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts Rev. Mariama White-Hammond said of the decision, "President Trump's rollback of conservation protections for our Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument stifles our communities' climate justice and biodiversity needs. Underwater sanctuaries are necessary for God's creation to be resilient and regenerate. We depend on God's marine creation for food, for spiritual sustenance, and for half the oxygen we breathe. In a week when the words 'I can't breathe' have been ringing in our ears, Trump's violation of our marine sanctuary protections is yet one more example of how anti-life his actions continue to be."
Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts & Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas remarked on her experience of Trump’s actions this week: "Like many Christians, I am appalled that President Trump seems intent on desecrating all things sacred. Just days ago, he deployed armed law enforcement officers to forcibly clear a crowd of non-violent protesters exercising their First Amendment rights and calling for justice for Black lives. The officers used tear gas on some of my fellow Episcopal priests outside a church where they were offering hospitality to peaceful protesters, all to make way for the President to have a photo taken, in which he used a Bible and the Episcopal church as a prop to lend moral legitimacy to his violent rhetoric and actions. Today is World Environment Day and the fifth day of Ocean Month, yet President Trump saw fit today to roll back conservation protections for this underwater sanctuary for God's marine creation. We treasure this monument, which, like Noah’s ark, protects and shelters a precious diversity of life, including endangered species. People of faith and conscience see through these callous actions, and we vigorously oppose them."
Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director Shantha Ready Alonso said of today’s decision, “It is deeply frustrating to see our community’s historic conservation victory that was the fruit of years of organizing efforts un-done in an announcement in which President Trump seems to barely understand the implications of his action. Unless we change course quickly and dramatically, our children will look back at our short-sighted squandering of God’s creation and ask us: ‘How dare you let this happen?’”
Creation Justice Ministries represents the creation care and environmental justice policies of 38 Christian communions, including Baptist conventions, mainline Protestants, Historically Black Churches, Peace Churches, and Orthodox communions.