On January 15, 2013, to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, hundreds of faith leaders from around the country gathered to demand that the White House show real leadership on climate change. Sponsored by the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, the event began with a pray-in at the New York Ave Presbyterian Church in Washington DC and ended with a rally outside the White House, publically calling on President Obama to break the climate silence.
Many quoted Rev. King and found strong connections between Rev. King’s fight for economic and racial justice then and the fight for environmental justice today. ”Dr. King said ‘We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now… Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”’, said Bob Edgar, CEO of Common Cause. One of the organizers of the event, Lise Van Susteren, said that the decision to hold the rally on what would have been King’s 84 birthday was deliberate and designed to highlight the seriousness of climate change. “People talk about climate change as weather,” Van Susteren said. ”This is not about weather. This is a human rights issue that requires a moral attitude – to think otherwise is inhumane.”
Rev. Tom Carr, IREJN’s Co-Chairman of the Board and IMAC Steering Committee member, attended along with his daughter. “We have a moral and spiritual imperative to respond NOW to rapid climate change,” said the Rev. Carr. “It is a matter of human justice as the weakest and most vulnerable are already suffering the effects of the accelerating extreme weather events and an issue of human stewardship of the creation of which we are a part. The science is clear; the effects of rapid warming are already being felt; inaction is not an option. People of faith must take action and demand that our elected officials do the same.”
Attendees at the Pray-In urged President Obama to demonstrate a commitment to fighting climate change through a number of initiatives, including permanently refusing permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, hosting a national climate summit, publically support and advocate for a carbon fee, and ending subsidies to coal, oil, and gas.