African Faith Leaders, U.S. Christians Seek Climate Justice

A delegation of African Christian leaders joined their American counterparts this week on Capitol Hill to give voice to climate change concerns and its impact on the lives of poor Africans.

Crops are failing and storms are increasing across Africa, says the group of Christians from Uganda and Zimbabwe to U.S. congressmen, according to the National Council of Churches USA.

Delegate member Rosemary Mayiga, a Ugandan Catholic and rural economist, says crops die and African farmers have to plough and plant again because of climate change.

"It is not moral for some people to go to bed with a full stomach when others go to bed with their stomach empty," she said.

Mayiga and other African leaders will brief members of Congress and senior religious leaders on the devastating impact of climate change on countries in Africa from Sept. 22 to 27. They will also call on both U.S. lawmakers and the United Nations to address the disproportionate impacts.

"The delegation aims to raise awareness about how global climate change impacts those living in poverty and to help people understand that climate change is a moral issue that demands timely action," said Tyler Edgar, delegation representative from NCC.

The African leaders' visit this week is the result of a partnership formed between African Christian activists and representatives from the NCC who attended the recent U.N. Climate Negotiations in Accra, Ghana.

During the Accra meeting, religious delegates urged U.N. delegates to develop a new treaty that would slow global warming and provide strong adaptation measures for communities such as farmers in Uganda.

"We hear about climate change as a political issue, an environmental issue and an economic issue," said Marcia Owens, a minister in the Florida branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who attended the Accra negotiations. "We want to press the point that this is a moral issue."

Other religious delegates include Evelyn Nassuna of Lutheran World Relief in Uganda; Daniel Nzengya, a professor at Africa University in Zimbabwe; Marcia Owens of African Methodist Episcopal Church; and John Hill, who is part of the General Board of Church in Society at the United Methodist Church.