Rev. Ginna Bairby, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Taos in New Mexico conveyed why she signed the letter: “Life is sacred: the animal and plant life in our national monuments, the lives of the Native peoples who hold this land particularly sacred, and the lives of the many people in my congregation and community whose economic security depends on the tourist industry that has boomed since the designation of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Christ calls me to love God and love my neighbors - protecting these national monuments is part of that call.”
The letter states:
“As people of faith, we deeply value the ways our country's public lands conserve the natural, cultural, and spiritual riches we have been blessed to inherit from past generations. We believe we have a moral responsibility to pass these riches on to future generations.”
The letter was delivered days before it is reported that the Trump Administration will impose the most significant loss of conservation protections for public lands in U.S. history. On Monday, December 4, President Trump is expected to make an announcement in Utah about the fate of Bears Ears National Monument as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has recommended dramatically downsizing or reducing conservation protections for ten national monuments nationwide.
Bishop David Brauer-Rieke, Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said of the potential diminishment of national monuments, “Without preservation of public lands like those under consideration, our country loses respect and understanding of what God has given us.”
The letter urges President Trump to
“Our public lands' conservation requires careful planning. Only the most delicate, culturally significant, and majestic parts of God's creation have been prioritized for the level of care which national monuments receive. Secretary Zinke's recommendations are inconsistent with our stewardship values. Please disregard Secretary Zinke's irresponsible recommendations and uphold all our national monuments.”
Some of the signers of the letter were also part of a Native American Heritage Month spiritual journey to Bears Ears National Monument and signed a spiritual leaders’ letter on preserving Native American heritage landscapes as well as sacred sites.
Creation Justice Ministries represents the creation care policies of 38 Christian communions, including Baptists, mainline Protestants, Historically Black Churches, Peace Churches, and Orthodox communions. Learn more at www.creationjustice.org
“National monuments are a reminder of the Majesty of creation and what our forefathers found here.”
~ Dorothy Rissel of Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Flagstaff, Arizona
“…in Genesis 1 we were given stewardship over all living things. It is a Biblical mandate and any policy that would put these lands in danger is just plain wrong. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, and a nature lover created the Nat'l Park system so we wouldn't ruin every inch of our land. These are incredibly sacred places and need to be preserved for present and future generations”.
~ Rev. Erin Thomas, Co-Pastor, Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverside, California
“The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof. All Gods people should have access to the beauty and history of America and they should be set aside and protected for our children and grandchildren as important and sacred.”
~ Rev. Carol Devine, Minister for Green Chalice; Pastor of Providence Christian Church in Versailles, Kentucky
“Public lands are the natural embodiment of American egalitarian values.”
~ Jared Meek, President, Brigham Young University Earth Stewardship
“They belong to everyone. They should be preserved in all their wildness, sacredness, and beauty for future generations. They should not be exploited and damaged, and they certainly should not be used for the profit of a few.”
~ Rev. Vanessa Cato, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden, Utah