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for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast


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Statement of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group

Adopted at the Eco-Justice Working Group Oct. 3-4, 2005, meeting

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and Rita compels us to bring our most cherished values and finest resources to the rebuilding. The desire to restore and rebuild must be guided by principles that will ensure that a just society will emerge from the receding waters. The Gospel compels the church to advocate on behalf of the voiceless, to be a champion for the rights of the powerless and an ardent guardian of Godís creation. The foundations of these renewed communities must be sound ecology, social equity, racial justice and pervasive compassion towards the least, the voiceless and the marginalized.  

The process of clean up is critical. It must be undertaken using the strictest guidelines and should be designed to protect public health and the environment. The tools of science not expediency must guide this process. The health and safety of all involved in the clean up must be a primary concern and all the pertinent safety regulations must be adhered to.  The future habitability of the region must be assessed by sound scientific principles and regulatory compliance not merely economic concerns. The rebuilding expenditures must not be offset at the cost of environmental damage to other regions and not be used to justify weakening environmental safeguards.  

The church must therefore be an active presence, not only as a place of comfort and solace, but as a watchful steward of community health: social, economic and ecological justice; and the rights of racial-ethnic minorities. Out of destruction and death can thus emerge a new society that better reflects the earthly concerns of the Reign of God.

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Special Commission on the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, National Council of Churches USA, 110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002