The potential of religion for Earth Stewardship

By Gregory E. Hitzhusen and Mary Evelyn Tucker

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume 11, Issue 7
September 2013
Pages 368–376.

Religious communities are playing an increasingly important role in advancing Earth Stewardship. We briefly summarize the potential of religions and religious values to support this initiative, characterizing its development and acknowledging the inherent tensions between the problems and promise of religious influences. Mobilizing religious believers to contribute to responsible stewardship of the Earth requires a critical appreciation of the complexity of religious traditions and the ways that religious communities view nature, as well as the cultural and spiritual resources that religious teachings provide in confronting change and human suffering. We emphasize religious virtues that favor sustainable resource use and key developments that have prompted fruitful dialogue between ecologists and religious believers. We also describe promising alliances between scientists and spiritual leaders that may help to encourage cooperative Earth Stewardship. Religions have great potential to transform cultures toward improved Earth Stewardship, in collaboration with key scientific, economic, public policy, and education partners.

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