Opinion //

Fighting for Creation

Christian faith compels Raúl to act on climate change.

Art by Elissa Sugunananthan

There are many different reasons to fight for climate action. Some have suffered firsthand from the destruction of increasingly extreme weather events. Others feel a sense of injustice when faced with the denial and negligence of political leaders. For me, standing up for the environment is closely related to my faith.

Although I grew up attending various congregations of the Uniting Church, I have not always considered myself religious. I often felt reluctant to explore my spirituality because I could not see a place for God in the modern world. While I saw the value of community, who lifted up my family in times of need, as we did for others, I was never able to reach out and start a personal relationship with God.

Something that helped me open up to my faith is the idea of creation. Creation recognises that the world is a work of God, a concept I feel drawn to because it helps answer a deep curiosity within me–that there must be a greater reason for the existence of myself and everything around me. 

Part of this creation narrative is a divine mandate to care for creation. This does not make humans superior to other forms of life, but responsible to them.  My faith also calls me to love my neighbours. Whether it be rising seas threatening the homes of Pacific Islanders, or unpredictable weather straining rural farmers, climate change has devastating impacts on real people. How can I profess a love for others when I know they are suffering as a result of a government and economic system that perpetuates environmental destruction? As long as corporations burn fossil fuels for profit and our politicians are complicit in this country, I will speak up. 

Christian community has helped me put this calling into action. A discovery of faith is rarely an individual pursuit, and I have been blessed to be part of a congregation who sees their faith as a reason to pursue social justice. One experience in particular epitomises this fellowship of activism.

Last year, I co-led a team of organisers from Christian Students Uniting who had the vision of unifying the Church for the September 20 Climate Strike. Across a span of 3 months, we organised vigorously, bonding in our common goal to protect creation, and growing under the mentorship of leaders in our community. As a result of our work, over 500 members and affiliates of the Uniting Church answered our call and we marched through the streets in support of the global environmental movement, a collective proclamation of our faith in motion.

The event was not only immensely rewarding, but deeply spiritual. Mesmerised by the combined power of 80,000 voices, I felt more connected to humanity than ever before. This is religion for me—not merely a system of beliefs, but a motive for action.