Leading Religious Groups Call on Congress
to Pass Safe, Healthy Chemical Policy
 Reform

June 29, 2010 -- Faith-based organizations at the national and state level are calling on Congress to establish a comprehensive chemical policy to protect both people and the environment. 

The National Council of Churches, GreenFaith, the Union for Reform Judaism, and faith-based organizations in ten states today released their new "Interfaith Statement for Chemical Policy Reform."

The statement, which draws on values and teachings from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, calls for federal chemical policy that protects people and all life on Earth, with particular attention to vulnerable populations such as children, chemical industry workers, and low-income communities and communities of color which are disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals.  

The Interfaith Statement is being released as Congress prepares to consider legislation to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that regulates the over 80,000 industrial chemicals in commerce. Religious leaders and lay leaders are encouraged to indicate their support for the Statement by visiting http://nccecojustice.org/health/interfaith_statement_eh.php. 

"Since 2007, faith communities across the country have expressed a growing concern for the failures of current chemical policy. People of faith are speaking up and helping to pass protective policies in the states. Now it is time for federal reform," said Chloe Schwabe, Environmental Health Program Director at the National Council of Churches. 

"Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Christians share a commitment to justice to the most vulnerable and to all God's creatures. We need chemical policy reform that makes this vision real," said the Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, a national interfaith environmental organization. 

"Jewish tradition teaches us to take precautions to prevent harm to ourselves and to others. We need to take this precautionary approach when putting new chemicals on the market and in considering chemicals already in use," said Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "Our communities want to know that the products they use everyday won’t harm their children or their neighbors in those communities disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals."

In addition to listing teachings from the five religious traditions listed above, the Statement also affirms three vital features of effective chemical policy.  The Statement calls on Congress to pass legislation that: 

  • Protects people and ecosystems by removing the most toxic chemicals from use
  • Protects vulnerable communities and people by creating stronger regulation and safeguards
  • Promotes a sustainable and healthy economy, with increased investment in ‘green’ chemistry and green job creation

The document released today reflects many principles found in the 2007 "Christian Principles for a Healthy Body and Spirit." Over 30 faith-based organizations and 1000 religious leaders and lay leaders in churches across the United States have signed the Christian principles. At present, state-based signatories to both the Christian Principles and the Interfaith Statement include Minnesota Council of Churches, Maine Council of Churches, Massachusetts Council of Churches, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Center for the Celebration of Creation (PA), Texas Impact, Voices for Earth Justice (MI), Interreligious Eco-Justice Network (CT), and Earth Ministry (WA).  

Both organizational and individual signatories will be collected. The Interfaith Statement for Chemical Policy Reform can be found and endorsed at: http://nccecojustice.org/health/interfaith_statement_eh.php. 

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The Union for Reform Judaism provides vision, direction and leadership to Reform Jews and congregations on spiritual, ethical, social justice and management issues, offering programming support to Reform Jewish congregations and strengthening individual Jewish identity and growth. 

GreenFaith is an interfaith coalition for the environment. Founded in 1992, GreenFaith inspires, educates and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.  For more information, see www.greenfaith.org. 

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 36 member faith groups — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

For more information contact: Chloe Schwabe, 202-481-6932


                      NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell), pjenks@ncccusa.org