Last fall thousands of people descended upon the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota to protest the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil pipeline whose construction threatened sacred tribal artifacts and burial sites. Protesters voiced environmental concerns regarding the pipeline itself, while also stressing the important spiritual relationship between the tribe and their land.
There are many religions that touch upon humanity’s relationship with the natural environment. In religious texts and writings, humans are often portrayed as being stewards of the earth. We are to live and enjoy its fruits – but we are also charged with its protection. No human endeavor comes before the needs of the earth as a whole, the thinking goes. We live in an age ripe with environmental issues and controversy. Let’s examine what a few specific religions say about the environment and our relationship to it: