This training focuses on how to begin reaching out to your national faith headquarters, potential allies, and local places of worship, given that many voices within the faith community have been making a moral case for action on climate change.
The faith community
The best rule of thumb for engaging with faith-based groups is to work with the faith you know. In this space, authenticity really matters. The benefit of having a group of volunteers is that you hopefully can have a variety of people within it, with a diversity of connections. By engaging with faith groups you are familiar with, you speak to their values and priorities and have a greater chance of connecting with them.
There are Action Teams for many of the faiths and religions, and it’s always good to check with those for advice on how to engage, as well as to know which groups within your local area and greater region have been contacted. Many of them have developed their own faith/denomination specific materials (for example, see the Faith Based Statements on Climate Change, the Catholic Action Team's Catholic Response to Global Warming resource file), or the Jewish Action Team's Jewish Support for Climate Action & Carbon Pricing and if you’re interested in reaching out to the faith community to work on climate change, you may want to join.
Engage with your national faith headquarters
Several of CCL’s Action Teams including the Presbyterians and Episcopalians have successfully secured resolutions for national faith-based organizations endorsing CCL’s policies and the Energy Innovation Act. This may require months or years of work but a resolution like this will have a strong impact on the members of Congress that belong to your faith.
To see which members of Congress belong to your faith, see this this report from Pew: Religious affiliations of all members of the 116th Congress
You can arrange to have copies of your resolution delivered to members of Congress at the CCL November or June Conference. Between conferences you may want to send the resolution in the mail.
Engage with faith-related allies
Some of CCL’s Action Teams find it empowering to work with outside faith-based organizations. For example CCL’s Catholic Action Team works closely with the Catholic Climate Covenant. The Unitarian Universalist Action Team has also followed this model. Do some research to determine if there is an organization that would be a complementary ally for working on climate.
Consider inviting your allies to be guest speakers on a CCL Action Team monthly call.
Activate your faith community
A 2019 CCL Blog Catholic-Faith Based Outreach Article gave the following advice to any CCL member who may want their own faith communities to support the Energy Innovation Act:
- Educate yourself on church teachings on climate change. Read any seminal documents, like the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si, statements (or faith leaders of your church) on Creation Care, climate change and legislation it supports.
- Start at your local parish level with a conversation with your pastor (or local faith leader). Explore what they know about climate change and what kind of priority it is for them. Have a discussion on church teaching. Share information. See if there is a social justice ministry or Creation Care team focused on Creation Care activities at the parish. If not, consider starting one and see if they would support it.
- Your credibility will be enhanced if you are more broadly focused on Creation Care than one very narrow legislative component of it. You’ll need to establish some visibility, build awareness, educate parishioners on church teaching on Creation Care and climate change before jumping in on Energy Innovation Act advocacy. It’s a process.
- Then network with the Diocese to see what other parishes are doing similar activities, and establish what priority climate change is for the Diocese. Reach out to other parishes to create a louder voice to the Diocese.
Engage with local places of worship
You might find that local places of worship, or committees within the places of worship, are sympathetic to your climate work and will allow you to give a climate solution presentation for a group of congregants. If you are a CCL Action Team with members in CCL chapters in many cities, your members may be successful in giving presentations.
Consider inviting the head of your local place of worship to be guest speakers on a CCL Action Team monthly call. Or perhaps the district, state, or national leader would agree to be a guest speaker.
Bring faith leaders to lobby meetings
The initial mission of the Faith Leader Action Team was to urge volunteers to bring faith leaders to in-district or DC lobby meetings. This is still a terrific way to impress your member of Congress with the urgency of the climate problem.
- Look up the faith of your members of Congress in this Pew Report.
- Find a faith leader in your community who follows the same faith as your members of Congress. Contact the faith leader and find out if he / she is concerned or alarmed about climate change, and if so develop a relationship with the goal of perhaps bringing him / her to a lobby meeting with your member of Congress in the future.
Closing the loop
- Did you deliver a presentation? Submit a field report.
- Are you working towards your organization’s support of Energy Innovation Act? Track your work in the Grasstops Engagement Tracker.
- Share your outreach plans with your local team and group leader.
- Tell the appropriate faith-based Action Team
This video walks through the making a pitch on the statement of support for the Energy Innovation Act from a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to get stories about the bill in Catholic newspapers throughout the country.
- Faith Outreach Brochure PDF
- CCL Faith-based Statements on Climate Change Booklet
- Friends Committee on National Legislation (external link)
- Climate Change Statements from World Religions (Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology)
- Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene (Vatican)
- Interfaith Power & Light Clergy Corner (to design an environmentally themed service)
- CCL National Speaker December 2017: José Aguto, Catholic Climate Covenant
- CCL National Speaker July 2015 Patrick Carolan, Franciscan Action Network