When churches start becoming experts on pipelines and ecology, does that mean oil companies can become experts on theology? or on missions? or on church buildings? or on ecclesiastical structures? on Sunday school teachers? Maybe we should reconsider Overture 3 of the last synod. or on Ma
The following is By: John Cotter, The Canadian Press (August 6, 2012) Augus
Churches across Canada say they have a religious duty to speak out on the proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.
Next week, delegates at the United Church of Canada general council meeting in Ottawa are to debate a resolution that calls on the church to reject construction of the $6-billion Enbridge (TSX:ENB)project that would take diluted bitumen from Alberta to the British Columbia coast. The resolution was drafted in support of aboriginals in B.C., who worry a spill would poison the land and water, and directs the church to send the results of its vote to the federal, B.C. and Alberta governments and the media.
Mardi Tindal, moderator of the United Church, said care of the Earth is an important part of the faith and the church can't shy away from the pipeline just because it is controversial and politically divisive.
"People care so much about this. People understand that you cannot separate economic health from ecological health," she said from Toronto.
"The church has a responsibility to contribute to the conversations that make for the best public policy for the common good."
The United Church of Canada is not alone.
Earlier this year, the Anglican Bishops of British Columbia and Yukon issued a statement that questioned the integrity of the pipeline's environmental impact review.
The diocese of New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada has declared its outright opposition to Northern Gateway, and is looking at excluding Enbridge stock from the diocese's investment portfolio.
A group representing 28 Presbyterian churches in B.C.'s Lower Mainland has written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that accuses the government of weakening environmental reviews and demonizing people who oppose projects as radicals trying to sabotage Canada's economy.
.......There is so much buzz about the pipeline in religious circles that the ecumenical justice organization Kairos has written a primer on the Enbridge project entitled Ethical Reflections on the Northern Gateway Pipeline. It's meant to help churches make their own value judgments on the project.
....It says the focus on the anticipated wealth the pipeline would create threatens to obscure the magnitude of the profound challenges it would pose to the environment.
"In a very immediate way, Northern Gateway threatens the survival of the First Nations whose territory it would cross," the report says.
"A spill would devastate livelihoods, the land, food sources and the ability to pass on to future generations values, principles, languages and core aspects of how these people's cultures are practised."
Kairos member churches include the Anglican Church of Canada, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mennonite Central Committee of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the United Church of Canada.
Ed Bianchi, a Kairos spokesman, said the report is impartial on Northern Gateway.
"I don't think it is a political issue. I think it is an issue that is of concern to our society because it has so many potential impacts on so many people," he said.
Enbridge said it has no problem with churches weighing in with their opinions on Northern Gateway. But the Calgary-based corporation added it is concerned about whether people are basing their opinions on facts."