The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which lasted from April 20, 2010 to July 15, 2010, shaped up as an environmental and social disaster of epic proportions — and one that also prompted a great deal of national soul-searching. Ethical, moral and religious aspects of the catastrophe played a critical role in the debate.
The issues raise questions about the propriety of the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, America’s penchant for consumption over conservation, the role of government in regulation and cleanup, and even the purely theological issues of the emerging teaching on “creation care” and the older eschatological debates about the apocalypse and the end of the world. It also raises the question of responsibility. Does the blame lie with BP, for leasing the oil rig that eventually caused the spill? The federal government, for failing to better regulate the industry? Or Americans, for continuing to be so dependent on oil?
This edition of ReligionLink provides resources for journalists covering the spill and the issue of religion and the environment.
Here are a number of stories on the religious, moral and ethical aspects of the oil spill:
“4 Gulf Coast governors call for Day of Prayer on Sunday”
The governors of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas named Sunday, June 27, a day of prayer for the Gulf Coast oil spill.
“The BP Oil Spill: A Christian Call for Lament and Reconciliation”
An online petition, “The BP Oil Spill: A Christian Call for Lament and Reconciliation,” called on Americans to observe a “fast from oil” on Sunday, June 20, 2010, the two-month anniversary of the spill. Composed at the 2010 Duke Divinity Center for Reconciliation Summer Institute, the petition includes a Litany of Lament and suggestions for reducing oil consumption as a means for transforming “our lives as individuals and churches toward freedom from fossil fuels and reconciliation with all God’s creation.”
“My Take: How should Christians respond to the oil spill?”
“How should Christians respond to the oil spill?” is a June 18 column by Jonathan Merritt, author of “Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet.” The essay is at CNN’s Belief Blog.
“Gulf spill seeps into spiritual life”
Read a June 11, 2010 story, “Gulf spill seeps into spiritual life,” from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and posted at the Huffington Post.
“It’s about the carbon: What’s worse than the gulf oil leak?”
Read a June 1, 2010 an essay in the June edition of The Christian Century by Bill McKibben, titled “It’s about the carbon: What’s worse than the gulf oil leak?”
“The Cry of the Oil-Soaked Pelican: How the birds mired in the Gulf oil spill teach us to properly grieve”
Read “The Cry of the Oil-Soaked Pelican: How the birds mired in the Gulf oil spill teach us to properly grieve,” a June 9 essay at Christianity Today relating the disaster to man’s fallen nature.
“Judgment in the Gulf: Woes and blessings of the oil spill”
Read a June 1, 2010 essay in Christianity Today by Mark Galli titled, “Judgment in the Gulf: Woes and blessings of the oil spill.”
“Ecological Catastrophe and the Uneasy Evangelical Conscience”
Read a June 1, 2010 blog post, “Ecological Catastrophe and the Uneasy Evangelical Conscience,” by Russell D. Moore, a popular writer and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Hearing the Prophetic Call in the Gulf Oil Disaster”
The Rev. Chuck Freeman, founder of The Free Souls Project and a self-described liberal, has a May 31 column at The Huffington Post religion blog titled “Hearing the Prophetic Call in the Gulf Oil Disaster.”
“Silence, God, and the Gulf Coast Oil Spill”
Read a May 7, 2010 article from the Huffington Post about the Episcopal perspective on the oil spill.
“Buddhist Ethics for a Harm-Free Livelihood: An Open Letter to the CEO of BP”
Read a May 27, 2010 article from the Huffington Post about the Buddhist perspective on the oil spill.
“BP gives $1 million to Archdiocese of New Orleans for oil spill relief”
Faith communities in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are heavily involved in relief efforts. BP donated $1 million to the Archdiocese of New Orleans for relief programs, as this May 28 Catholic News Service story recounts.