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Religious Leaders Urge Protection of National Forests' Roadless Areas

June 29, 1999
WASHINGTON DC —

Copy of letter and signatories below:

"Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord." (Psalm 96:10-13)

The President and Vice President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Clinton and Vice President Gore:

As people of faith concerned with our responsibility toward God's marvelous creation, we would like to commend you for launching a process to protect roadless areas in our national forests. We urge you to continue this process by drafting a strong and effective policy that protects these pristine regions fully.

You have heard from many scientists and others, urging you to protect national forest roadless areas of 1000 acres or more from damaging activities, such as road building, logging, and mining. We, too, share this view and believe national forest roadless areas are valuable because of all the benefits they provide, including key habitat for endangered species and the protection of water supplies vital to fish, other animals, plants, and people.

Yet, we value these untouched forests not only for the vital ecological functions they provide, but also because they so clearly reflect our Creator's handiwork. They reflect God's majesty, power, and beauty in a unique way, as do all of the amazing variety of creatures they shelter. Forests are like a temple constructed by God, where we can worship and draw close by marveling at God's endless wisdom and creativity: "How many are your works, O Lord, in wisdom You have made them all" (Psalm 104:24).

The Scriptures make clear that protecting God's forests, and the many aspects of creation they embody and protect, is not merely sound policy but holy obligation. The Scriptures tell us that the earth does not belong to us, but to God, and that we are the tenants charged with its care. God instructed the Israelites, "The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants" (Leviticus 25:23), and the psalmist declares, "The Earth is the Lord's and all that is in it" (Psalm 24:1-2). All of creation has value as a reflection of the divine nature of God: "Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:19-20). Indeed, the first commandments that were given to humankind according to the Scriptures were to take proper care of the Earth and "till and keep" the garden (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). In the Jewish tradition, God instructed the first humans, "See to it that you do not pollute or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it." (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah on 7:13).

This is a crucial time in the development of your Administration's policy concerning our national forest roadless areas. We urge you to listen carefully to the widespread calls for protecting these areas, a cause that has unified environmental constituencies and people of faith, and maintain an open process that continues to seek input from the public. We also hope that, upon consideration of our religious and secular perspectives together, you will push forcefully for a final national forest roadless policy that truly reflects our Scriptural responsibility to care for this wonderful part of God's creation by protecting roadless areas on all national forests.

Sincerely,

Owen D. Owens, American Baptist National Ministries Ecology and Racial Justice Program Ann Alexander, Chair Christian Environmental Council Amy Hanson and Connie Hanson, Co-Directors Christians Caring for Creation David R. Radcliff, Office of Brethren Witness Church of the Brethren General Board Mark X. Jacobs, Director Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Rabbi David Saperstein Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism The Reverend James T. Mulligan, Executive Director Earth Ministry The Reverend Cliff R. Benzel, Acting Director Evangelical Environmental Network Ruah Swennerfelt, General Secretary Friends Committee on Unity with Nature Paulette G. Hammond, Secretary Interfaith Coalition for the Environment, Inc. J. Daryl Byler, Director Mennonite Central Committee Brother David Andrews, CSC, Executive Director The National Catholic Rural Life Conference Susan Hope Bower, Vice President North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology The Reverend Elenora G. Ivory Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office The Reverend John D. Paarlberg, Minister for Social Witness and Worship Reformed Church in America Frederick W. Krueger, Executive Director Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation Gordon Aeschliman, President Target Earth Charles McCollough, Office for Church in Society United Church of Christ The Reverend Douglas B. Hunt Washington and United Nations Representative United Church of Christ Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility Thom White Wolf Fassett, General Secretary General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church Jaydee Hanson, Assistant General Secretary Paz Artaza-Regan, Program Director/Environmental Justice Ministry of God's Creation General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church

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David C. Aaronson, President of Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, California Gail S. Abend, Chairperson, Las Vegas Affiliate, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, Nevada Joy Ackerman, Episcopal Church, Massachusetts Gideon-Mer T. Alegado, First Presbyterian Church, Oregon Lee A. Almy, Senior Pastor, Hapeville First United Methodist Church, Georgia Scott Althouse, Christian Environmental Council, Pennsylvania Adelaide Ammon, Earth Advocacy Committee, Dixboro United Methodist Church, Michigan The Reverend Ralph D. Andersen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Iowa The Reverend Martin Armstrong, III., United Methodist Church, North Carolina The Reverend Earl Arnold, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York Patricia Arvilla, Frankenmuth United Methodist Church, Michigan Thomas Augustine, Church of the Holy Family, Episcopal Church, Illinois Jean Ault, Community Lutheran Church, Virginia The Reverend Dr. Steven Avinger, Sr., Senior Pastor, St. Matthew Baptist Church, American Baptist Churches, Pennsylvania The Reverend Kathleen Awbrey, Canon (director) for Christian Social Ministries, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, North Carolina David R. Baker, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, North Carolina Joel Baker, Associate Executive Vice President, B'nai B'rith International, California Josh Baker, Chair, Environmental Justice Work Area, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church, Minnesota Linda Bales, Chair, Board of Christian Social Witness, West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, Ohio Mary Bangassaro, Phoenix United Methodist Church, Michigan The Reverend Peter Bartlett, Newberry United Methodist Church, Michigan Barry Barto, Church of the Brethren, Michigan Tom Baugh, Doctor of Ministry, Religious Society of Friends, Georgia The Reverend Thomas Beckett, United Methodist, Ohio Fannye Belt, Presbyterian, Georgia The Reverend Christopher H. Bender, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, West Virginia Eugene C. Bianchi, Professor of Religion, Emory University, Georgia Caryl Bigenho, Restoring Creation Enabler, Santa Barbara Presbytery, Presbyterian, California The Reverend Sally G. Bingham, Chair of Episcopal Diocese of California, Commission for the Environment, California Charles H. Bixby, American Baptist, New York The Reverend Janet Blackburn, Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church, Texas The Reverend Dr. Michael Russum Blaine, Editor, The Green Pulpit Journal, Kansas The Reverend Carol Marie Blair, Fenton United Methodist Church, Michigan Isabel N. Bliss, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Michigan William M. Bliss, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Michigan Pastor Richard Blomker, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Wisconsin Basil B. Bloss, United Methodist Church of Swartz Creek, Michigan Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, Professor of Religion, Hope College, Michigan Rebecca Bowes, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Utah Arthur Boyd, Society of Friends (Quakers), Maryland Bob Boyles, Dordt Oak Part Neighborhood House, Michigan The Reverend Dr. Laurie J. Braaten, Associate Professor of Old Testatment, Eastern Nazarene College, Massachusetts John H. Bradin, Quaker, Connecticut Dr. J. Lawrence Brasher, Director of the Center for Values and Ethics, Catawba College, United Methodist minister, North Carolina Jen Brock, Jewish, North Carolina Margaret Broussard, Florida Annual Conference, United Methodist Church, Florida Sandra S. Brown, Restoring Creation Enabler, Miami Presbytery, Ohio Paul Burks, United Methodist Minister, California Olivia Camden-Mackie, Restoring Christian Enabler, Presbytarian Church (U.S.A.), North Carolina The Reverend Thomas Carr, American Baptist Churches, Connecticut Paul L. Carson, Ph.D., Chairman, Earth Advocacy Committee, Dixboro United Methodist Church, Michigan Nancy Corson Carter, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Florida Jack Chandler, Glenwood United Methodist Church, Michigan Joan Chapin, Caro: United Methodist Church, Michigan Brian Christoffersen, Restoring Creation Enabler, Presbytery of Los Ranchos, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), California Jean and Donald Clark, Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility, United Church of Christ, Tennessee The Reverend Albert G. Cohen, Southern California Ecumenical Council, California Liz Cohen, Temple Beth-El, New Jersey Rabbi Paul F. Cohen, Congregation Bet Ha'am, Maine Brian Cole, Sabbath Project, North Carolina Jaime Contois, Religious Society of Friends, New York Lesli Corthell, Bethany Presbyterian Church, Washington The Reverend Dr. Dan Cottrell, American Baptist Church, Rhode Island Louis Cox, Friends Committee on Unity with Nature, Burlington Friends Meeting, Quaker, Vermont Bernadine W. Daniels, United Methodist Church, Michigan Lynn Darling, Presbyterian, Nebraska The Reverend Sharon Delgado, California-Nevada Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church, California Dr. Calvin B. DeWitt, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison Marilyn Dinger, Christian, Utah Rabbi Fred Dobb, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Maryland Ed Dreby, Society of Friends, New Jersey The Reverend Tom Droppers, Chartered Committee for Environmental Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, North Carolina Elisabeth J. Duman, Environmental Task Force, SE Michigan Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Michigan James A. Dunning, Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, Wisconsin Susan Eason, First Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), West Virginia The Reverend Ken Edwards, Church of the Brethren, Tennessee Melissa K. Elliott, Religious Society of Friends, Pennsylvania Albert W. Emery, American Baptist, New Jersey Margaret T. Emery, American Baptist, New Jersey Elaine C. Emmi, Salt Lake Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Utah Dr. Thomas D. English, Presbyterian, California Jordan Epstein, Chair, Shomrei Adamah Northwest, Oregon Gail Erdie, District Lay leader, and District UMW Spiritual Growth co-ord., Lay member New Paltz United Methodist Church, New York Lana Fayman, Jewish, California Doris B. Ferm, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Kentucky Rabbi David Fine, Board Member, Northwest Jewish Environmental Project Michael C. Franklin, American Baptist, Maryland Clyde C. Fry, Northern Ohio District Chair, Church of the Brethren, Ohio Richard O. Fuller, Religious Society of Friends, Minnesota Dr. Barak Gale, Bay Area Chapter, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, California Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Congregation Beth Shalom Lulu K. Gaut, Restoring Creation Enabler, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Pennsylvania Gladys Gifford, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York Anne Glynn-Mackoul, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, New Jersey Lisa L. Gould, Clerk, Friends Committee on Unity With Nature, Vermont Dr. Robert Gottfried, Professor of Economics, The University of the South, Roman Catholic, Tennessee Carol E. Green, Peace with Justice Coordinator, Holston United Methodist Conference, Tennessee Jeffrey K. Greenberg,, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Geology and Environmental Science, Wheaton College, Illinois Suse Greenstone, Earthkeeping Ministries, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Pennsylvania Lucy Greer, United Methodist Church, Illinois Marleen Griffith-Stull, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Illinois Elaine Gross, United Church of Christ, New York The Reverend Marcos A. Gutierrez, Elbuen Pastor, United Methodist Church, Michigan Donald Haberstroh, Partners for Environmental Quality, United Methodist, New Jersey Chris Haddox, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), West Virginia Candace Hall, Elder, Reformed Church in America, New Jersey The Reverend Stanley Samuel Harakas, Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology, Emeritus, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Massachusetts Lucinda Hargrave, Paint Creek United Methodist Church, Michigan Kay Hargreaves, Environmental Concerns Committee, First Presbyterian Church, California The Reverend Muffy Harmon, Episcopal Church, Iowa Pastor Don Harrington, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., New Jersey Barbara Ann Harris, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Pennsylvania Dr. Lincoln Hartford, Wisconsin Conference, United Methodist Church, Wisconsin Carol Hartong, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Michigan The Reverend Dr. Phil Hausknecht, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Nevada Mary Hayenga, General Council on Ministries, United Methodist Church, South Dakota Jack J. Heddon, Maine Margaret and Norman Henke, Environmental Task Force of, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, California The Reverend Leon W. Herndon, Faith United Methodist Church, Michigan Theodore Hiebert, McCormick Theological Seminary, llinois Quincella Henley, Illinois Jonna Higgins-Freese, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Iowa Lee E. Hill, Jr., United Methodist Church, Mississippi Emery Hinkston, United Methodist Church, Michigan The Reverend Mary Hitt, Environment Chairperson, Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island David W. Hoferer, Graduate Fellow, Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, Christian, Wisconsin Jenny Holmes, Program Director, Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns, Ecumencial Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Jana Honermann, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Kansas Jane Horwitz, Chair, Social Action Committee, Beth David Reform Congregation, Pennsylvania Susan Houff Trudeau, Church of the Brethren, Illinois Gary Hougen, United Methodist Church, Illinois Christopher Hoving, Wildlife Ecology Graduate Student, University of Maine, Reformed Church in America, Maine Alan D. Howe, United Methodist, California Vic Hummert, CEO, Earth Literacy, Catholic, Louisiana Karen Ingvoldstad , Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Michigan Ophelia Isaac-Cook, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, North Carolina The Reverend James D. Jacobs, First United Methodist Church, Michigan Carol Jacobsen, Restoring Creation Enabler, Presbyterian Church, Illinois Ralph Jacobson, Prospect Hill Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends, Minnesota Sharalyn I. Jenson, Care of the Earth Task Force, Baltimore Presbytery, Presbyterian, Maryland The Reverend Steven L. Johns-Boehme, Executive Director, Michigan Consultation on Christianity and Ecology at the Michigan Ecumenical Forum, Michigan Allen Johnson, Creation Song Radio, Church of the Brethren, West Virginia Katharine B. Johnson, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Georgia Marian Johnson-Thompson, North Carolina Lisa Jones-Bateman, Community Lutheran Church, Virginia Les Judd, NYC affiliate, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, New York Pamela Kail, Dearborn First United Methodist Church, Michigan Carrell W. Kalland Presbyterian, Georgia Jesten Karper, Target Earth International, Presbyterian, Pennsylvania Laurie Kaufman, Gladstone Memorial, Michigan The Reverend Girish C. Khosla, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha America, Michigan Ada J. Kidd, Environmental Justice Coordinator, Detroit Conference, United Methodist Church, Michigan Sarah J. King, Environmental Task Force, Arizona Ecumenical Council, Arizona Donald R. Kirk, Janice E. Kirk, California Dr. Quentin Knauer, Ecology & Environment Committee, Cambridge Rotary, Presbyterian, Ohio William R. Knox, Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, North Carolina Sue Konopka, Physician Assistant/Ecologist Marsha Kozlowski, Lola Valley United Methodist Church, Michigan The Reverend Conrad Krahling, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, South Dakota The Reverend Kurt J. Kremlick, Jr., Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Michigan The Reverend Demphna Krikorian, United Methodist Church, Michigan Eric Kurtz, Madison Mennonite Church, Wisconsin Jane L. Laping, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Texas Debbie Leo, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Texas David A. Leslie, Executive Director, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Dr. Richard L. Lindroth, Evangelical Free Church of America, Professor of Ecology, University of Wisconsin - Madison The Reverend Darlene K. Little, Minister, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Pennsylvania The Reverend Dr. Neal E. and Reverend Carole Lloyd, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Illinois David M. Lowe, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Arizona Suellen Lowry, Christian Environmental Council, Society of Friends (Quakers), California

Contacts

Ann Alexander, Christian Environmental Council, 973/353-5695

Paz Artaza-Regan, GBCS, United Methodist Church, 202/488-5649

Mark Jacobs, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life,212/684-6950, ext. 213

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