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Statements of National Faith Leaders Following Gulf Coast Tour to See Impacts of BP Oil Disaster

CONTACT: Orli Cotel (415) 977-5627
orli.cotel@sierraclub.org
Sean Thibault, (202) 387-2800
news@rac.org

July 8, 2010, New Orleans. As the devastating impacts of the BP Oil Disaster continue to unfold, a group of national religious leaders from diverse faiths joined together this week to bear witness to the damage caused by the BP oil disaster in the Gulf Coast and to testify about what they have seen. Leaders of different faiths joined together to reflect, restore, and renew. On Tuesday evening, July 6th, they held an interfaith prayer service in New Orleans called Prayers for the Gulf. Yesterday, the leaders took a boat trip to see the ways that the BP oil disaster has impacted the Gulf Coast. Leaders highlighted the moral dimension of our costly dependence on oil, called for restoration of the Gulf communities and ecosystems, and began to envision a future based on clean energy to help us all protect creation.

To listen to a recording of the tele-press conference, call 1 800 642 1687, conference ID # 86171908

Statements from some of the faith leaders who attended this trip:

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
"There is a fear that if the well is capped the rest of the world will move on. We are going to be here and the rest of the religious institutions will be here. Religious institutions will play a central role on the Gulf Coast for a long time."

Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, Founder, Interfaith Power and Light:
"The careless action of BP in pursuit of profit has caused devastation on the Gulf Coast. It is an insult to God and a sin against creation."

Rev. Jim Wallis, Editor in Chief, Sojourners Magazine:
"Addictions cause your life not to work. Our national addiction to oil is causing life not to work for people in the gulf as exemplified by the BP catastrophe. We need an intervention for what's happening here. We need to start asking religious questions. Why did this happen and who is responsible for it? This is not an act of god. This is an act of human pride, folly and sinfulness. BP has sinned."

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President, Rabbinical Assembly:
"Here in the gulf, we are seeing the best of America being harmed by the worst of America. In this region, one of America's jewels, a place of rich cultural diversity and hard work that sustains our economy, lives have been upended by corporate greed and corporate mismanagement. Faith traditions share in common the fact that the highest expression of faith is the pursuit of justice, because it engages our respect for the spark of holiness in every human being."

Pastor Chris Seay, Ecclesia Church, Houston, TX:
"The Gulf Coast is not only tainted by oil that mars the beauty of God's creation it is also being filled with toxic dispersants that will taint our fish and harm unborn children for years to come.
We must reach out to our brothers and sisters here in the Gulf Coast in the midst of their suffering and let them know they are loved."

Fr. Dan Krutz, Episcopal Priest and Director, Louisiana Interchurch Conference:
"I am concerned so much about the loss of a way of life of our fisherman, their families, and others in the coastal communities, and I am determined to work for their survival."

Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, Pastor, Providence Missionary Baptist Church:
"Today has revealed to me that this is an American disaster rather than merely the challenge which the people of the Gulf must face alone. The faith community must serve as a catalyst for this movement to succeed. Until one comes down to actually see the devastation happening you cannot understand fully what's going on."

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Progressive National Baptist Convention:
"One of the immediate changes is how we talk about what we saw here. Most of us haven't thought deeper about this. We need to put a face on this disaster."

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Bios and photos available on request.



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