The Religious Roots of Environmental Justice

October 13, 2023

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  • Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory
  • The New Polis

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The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory and The New Polis, in co-operation with the University of Denver announces an upcoming one-day, online conference on “The Religious Roots of Environmental Justice” to be held Friday, October 13, 2023.  The two academic journals are published by The Whitestone Foundation, a Colorado-registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

The concept of “environmental justice” is a relatively recent addition to the discourses of religious and political theory.  According to the Office of Legacy Management with the Department of Energy, environmental justice can be defined as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” 

However, such laws are not sui generis, but have been elaborated in relatively recent times to long-standing spiritual attitudes and value propositions concerning what ought to be the human relationship to, and the character of our collective responsibility for, the natural order.  Virtually all of the world’s historical as well as indigenous religious traditions harbor both implicit and explicit views about how human and non-human beings should cohabit as well as interact with each other. 

The overriding question for the conference is in what specific ways do these traditions both inform and compel specific policies as well as ethical practices that constitute the spectrum of social action that counts as “environmental justice”.

The following kinds of questions may be considered in framing proposals, although they are not even remotely exhaustive.  They include:

  • What does “environmental justice” mean in a broader sense than its juridical application?
  • What role should religious people play in environmental politics?
  • Shoulsd we pay environmental “reparations” to injured parties or species, and what might they look like?
  • What do specific religious traditions have to say about environmental justice? 
  • What constructive steps can be taken to better marry environmental ethics with religious thinking?
  • Why is environmental theology still a marginalized sector of religious reflection, and what can be done to bring attention to this issue?
  • In what ways can the worlds religious communities enlist themselves towards revolutionary solutions regarding  the entwined crises of the Anthropocene
  • What views from spiritual traditions can expand the horizon of our environmental imagination?
  • How can indigenous resistance to governmental and corporate incursions on their land provide wisdom and inspiration for new approaches to environmental justice activism and policy?
  • In what ways can environmentally sensitive theological discussions break through the customary boundaries of ‘religious issues’ in political life?
  • Can environmental initiatives become a rallying point for interfaith conversations?
  • How do specific religious beliefs or doctrines (e.g.,  the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or “repairing of the world”) support and even compel effective strategies of environmental activism?
  • How do certain monotheistic eschatologies, or “end of the world” beliefs, clash with or support the objectives of environmental justice?
  • Do the Abrahamic religions shy away from environmentalism because of the fear that the movement flirts too much with “paganism”?

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October 9, 2023, 9:00pm UTC

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#environment, #environmental justice, #religion, #ecology, #philosophy of religion