Letting Our Faith Speak in Our Letters to Policymakers


Today I sent the following letter off via Friends of the Earth, who had alerted me to a write-in campaign in response to the U.S. State Department’s inviting public comment on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which is to bring crude oil down to U.S. refineries from the Alberta Tar Sands.

I’m copying it here not because I think it’s such a great piece of writing, but because it represents my answer to a query that many of us must ask ourselves when advocacy organizations ask us to sign a letter they’ve prepared for us: does this represent what I believe?  Does my Inward Guide, who wills only what God wills, want or allow me to sign my name to this statement?  And this query often leads to sub-queries, such as Is this loving? Am I participating in an attack on anyone?  Am I letting others put words in my mouth, like “I am outraged,” that have the seeds of war in them?
There is a voice of earthly reason in me, as there may also be in you, that says “if you sound like a religious person they won’t listen to you.”  That may be true; but they may also not listen to me if I try not to sound like a religious person.  I have to remind myself that every public-advocacy letter I send out to officeholders is not a prayer to them, but to God, whom the Muslims call (among other thing) “the Turner of Hearts.”  This is what I think George Fox meant by “answering that of God in them.”
A more fundamental consideration is that the voice of earthly reason is concerned with the success of my mission, which tangles me in reasoning about means and ends and guesswork about the receptivity of others’ hearts.  But my Inward Guide is only concerned with my faithfulness.
The letter follows:

U.S. Department of State
Keystone XL EIS Project
P.O. Box 96503-98500
Washington, DC 20090-6503

Subject: Stop the Keystone XL pipeline

Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton,

The State Department recently released a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline. I oppose this pipeline because of the dangers it poses to people and the environment. It would have been better for you to include recognition of these dangers in your analysis.

In the vision of John the Divine that concludes the Christian Scriptures, twenty-four elders announce to God that the time has come to “destroy them which destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:16-18). That is a frightening prospect because, whatever validity we’re inclined to grant the Book of Revelation, our consciences tell us that we fossil-fuel consumers are among the destroyers of the earth, and that we are without excuse before God unless we take steps to phase out our consumption as quickly as possible, and aggressively seek to develop renewable sources of energy.

I believe that I speak for many that seek to live by God’s will, from all faith traditions, when I lovingly urge you both to stand firm against pressures from the oil industry and its allies, and follow the dictates of your consciences as regard the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. The Living God will protect you from any retaliation they might devise against you. And any short-turn damage to the economy that might result from your disallowing the pipeline is surely less than the long-term damage you invite by favoring it.

In grave concern,


One Response to “Letting Our Faith Speak in Our Letters to Policymakers”

  1. Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) Says:

    A very good act of witness. I’m glad you wrote and sent this letter, and shared it with the rest of us.

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