Articles of Faith

By Tobin Hack

Back in May, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders came together to write an “Interfaith Declaration” to President Bush and Congress, calling for immediate action on climate change and citing their shared “reverence for life.” Kudos to the trifecta for coming together in the name of Mother Nature—and that shared mission got us thinking about whether other religious groups also have a spiritual connection to the earth. With a little digging through their sacred texts, we found that most of the world’s religions, in fact, share a deep reverence for our planet and all the creatures, from amoebas to zebras, that inhabit it.

O Mother Earth!
Sacred are your hills, snowy mountains, and deep forests.
Be kind to us and bestow upon us happiness. 
May you be fertile, arable, and sustainer of all. 
May you continue supporting people of all races and nations. 
May you protect us from your anger [i.e., natural disasters].
And may no one exploit and subjugate your children. —Prithivi Sukta
IN OUR WORDS: Word to your Mother.

How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruits, the branches and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and colour! Diversity of hues, form, and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof.... —Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Baha’i faith
IN OUR WORDS: Biodiversity 4 Eva!  Save the polar bears!

All breathing, existing, living, sentient beings should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. This is the pure, unchangeable, eternal law. —Acaranga Sutra
IN OUR WORDS: Vegans have better karma.

African Traditional religions
They gave the sacrifice to the East,
the East said, “Give it to the West,”
the West said, “Give it to God,”
God said, “Give it to Earth, for Earth is senior.” —Idoma Prayer
IN OUR WORDS: Nobody puts Earth in the corner.

Native American Spirituality
“All things are connected, whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.... The Earth is precious. To harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator.”
—Chief Sealth, leader of the Suquamish tribe
IN OUR WORDS: Hate on Earth, hate on God.

Daoism (or Taoism)
18. You should not wantonly fell trees.
36. You should not throw poisonous substances into lakes, rivers, and seas.
53. You should not dry up wet marshes.
101. You should not seal off pools and wells.
109. You should not light fires in the plains.
125. You should not fabricate poisons and keep them in vessels.
132. You should not disturb birds and [other] animals.
134. You should not wantonly make lakes.
—180 Precepts of Lord Lao
IN OUR WORDS: The EPA's got nothing on Lord Lao.

Issue 25

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