Here on Earth and Inside Islam radio host Jean Feraca then asked each panelist why they emphasized environmental conservation in this life, when each faith tradition speaks to the importance of the afterlife. “What’s the point?” Feraca challenged.
Don Quintenz, a practicing Baha’i and environmental educator, emphasized that the Baha’i faith embraces all previous spiritual traditions, and that the messages of all prophets focus upon moderation, reflection, and compassion. Quintenz referenced the life of the Buddha as an example of how humans can embrace a worldly existence, even one that is often filled with states of suffering.
Huda Alkaff, a Muslim environmental activist and ecologist, emphasized the Day of Judgment and God’s consideration of each human act as motivation for her eco-activism. She also said that her decisions to pursue environmental justice in this life have been informed by ecology and its recognition of life’s interconnectedness. Alkaff sees God’s requiring humans to serve and protect and her own dedication to improving the lives and surroundings of humans, animals, and natural environments as connected to God’s final decision about her place in the afterlife.
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman talked about how we are all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and how we are obliged to protect life and dignity, important foundations of environmental orientations. Throughout the event, and similar to Alkaff, Zimmerman emphasized the social justice angle of eco-activism. She also highlighted the recent success of interfaith cooperation in stopping the Keystone Pipeline legislation from passing Congress. Zimmerman reminded audience members, both secular and religious, that the success of that civil disobedience required the combined efforts of religious leadership, congregational members, and secular environmental groups and individuals.
Pastor Tim Mackie emphasized his efforts to bring about a greater recognition of human connectivity through church sermons. Mackie spoke of his congregation’s projects aimed at poverty reduction as an example of eco-consciousness, and of his congregants’ love for Jesus that increases through activism. Similar to the other panelists, Mackie spoke of justice and human actions in the present world as directly related to one’s state in the afterlife.