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  • Rick Bonetti

Faith Climate Action Week

Sacred Trust: Our Children’s Right to a Livable Future is a program of Interfaith Power and Light during Faith Climate Action Week from April 22 to May 1, 2022.

There will be two zoom screenings and discussions of Youth v Gov, a climate change ‘superhero’ movie, in Medford, Oregon during Faith Climate Action Week.

You are invited to a Zoom showing of the movie YOUTH v GOV:

When: Apr 29, 2022 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

You must register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting..

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” ~ U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

From Wikipedia:

"Juliana, et al. v. United States of America, et al. is a climate-related lawsuit filed in 2015 by 21 youth plaintiffs against the United States and several executive branch officials. Filing their case in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, the plaintiffs, represented by the non-profit organization Our Children's Trust, include Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the members of Martinez's organization Earth Guardians, and climatologist James Hansen as a "guardian for future generations". Some fossil fuel and industry groups intervened as defendants, but were later dropped at their request following the 2016 presidential election.

They assert that the government has knowingly violated their due process rights of life, liberty, and property as well as the government's sovereign duty to protect public grounds i.e. the Public Trust Doctrine by encouraging and permitting the combustion of fossil fuels. The plaintiffs call for the government to offer “both declaratory and injunctive relief for their claim—specifically, a declaration of the federal government's fiduciary role in preserving the atmosphere and an injunction of its actions which contravene that role.” The case is an example of an area of environmental law referred to as "atmospheric trust litigation", a concept based on the public trust doctrine and international responsibility related to natural resources.

In January 2020, a Ninth Circuit panel dismissed the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. On February 10, 2021, the en banc Ninth Circuit issued an order without written dissents denying the appeal. As of December 2021, the case is awaiting the district court's ruling on plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their complaint."


The IPL Sacred Trust program (outlined below from their website) examines our responsibility to safeguard our Earth for generations, and how our faiths call us to respond with bold and just solutions.

Our faith traditions call us into a holy covenant of Sacred Trust to care for one another in a relationship of mutual accountability. One way we care for one another is to care for our Earth, our common home.

Intergenerational climate justice calls us all to a sacred duty to care for the Earth and preserve our common home so that future generations may thrive. For instance, the Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that we should consider how today’s decisions impact those seven generations from now.

Many faith traditions speak of honoring future generations with equity and justice. Abrahamic scripture places each generation in relationship with past and future generations; in genealogies, histories, and prophecies. This outlook expressed in Genesis 17:7, “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” implies responsibility of the believers to maintain this continuum.

Working to ensure a safe and stable climate for future generations is foundational to the mission of Interfaith Power & Light.

Intergenerational injustice, racial injustice, and climate injustice converge to have a disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous, communities of color, and low-wealth communities. These communities are suffering the most from climate change impacts that will only worsen with time. To ensure a livable climate for the next seven generations and beyond, we need to advocate for equitable systems that care for these communities who are on the forefront of climate change.

"Our children have a sacred right to a livable future – to air they can breathe, water they can drink, land they can grow food on, and a stable climate. This future is being threatened by our climate crisis – with more extreme floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires – our air, water, and land becomes more polluted, less resilient, and less capable of sustaining life. It is our responsibility to respond to the call of our faiths and ensure a healthy environment for those who come after us." ~ Interfaith Power & Light


Our children not only have a moral right to a safe and livable climate, in the United States. We have legal provisions that protect the rights of future generations to a healthy environment.

The “public trust doctrine” calls the government to protect certain natural resources for the public good. A U.S. District Court judge ruled that this principle applies to the atmosphere, “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgement,’ ... I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”

The Bill of Rights of our constitution protects our “fundamental right to life, liberty, property”. Climate change poses a threat to these rights, destroying lives and property with extreme weather events such as floods, wildfires and heat waves, or incremental changes such as sea rise.

Our government has knowingly taken action to cause climate change through such actions as subsidizing fossil fuels, even after the scientific evidence became clear that the burning of fossil fuels drives climate change.

There is precedent for our court system initiating broad societal changes. For instance the Brown vs. Board of Education court decision successfully ordered desegregation when other branches of our government failed to provide an equal right to education to people of color. Learn about the role of courts to address climate injustice by hosting a screening and discussion of the film, Youth v Gov. It follows the landmark lawsuit that 21 youth have filed against the United States government for its role in causing climate change and violating their rights to life, liberty, and property, while also failing to protect essential public resources.

Historically, young people have led social and political change movements: civil rights, anti-war, immigration, and now climate change. Even very young children are speaking out for a livable climate. We must seek young people out, invite them to lead, work with them, and support them.


See this list of additional resources compiled by IPL that includes resources for worship, sermons or talks, climate study for youth and adults, short films, Joanna Macy’s intergenerational exercise, and more. Click here:

For example, the series of short films from Our Children’s Trust, based in Eugene OR, feature motivations of the young people who are the plaintiffs in the case Juliana v United States, such as 11 year old climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, of Aztec heritage, who speaks articulately of the devastation wildfires have caused in Colorado, and Nelson Kanuk, a native Yup'ik Eskimo from Alaska who speaks movingly of the melting ice and rising sea levels threatening his village’s homes and hunting way of life. Check out their Facbook page:


Let your actions be interactive and intergenerational - youth and adults learn and act together. However, know that the voices of young people have an outsized impact when they speak about how climate change imperils their future. So be sure to make space for them to speak, and remember they need the support of their adults to find their voice and ensure a positive experience. Consider these three options for your congregation...

1) Educate

Learn about climate impacts in your area on future generations, communities of color, and low-wealth communities. Consider a field trip to see local climate impacts such as flood damage. Work with people in that area who want to share their story, and consider taking action with that community to help solve the problem. For example MN IPL took youth to visit the Line 3 pipeline resistance camp to learn about the struggle and how they could participate.

Organize a field trip to see climate solutions like a solar installation or take a ride in an electric car. Offer a safe space for children and youth to integrate what they are learning. Answer their questions truthfully but with care.

Climate change is an existential threat, but solutions are at hand. Reassure them you are working on it and will support them in working on it. Together we can.

2) Respond

IPL invites youth and children to respond to the theme of Sacred Trust, the film Youth v Gov, or local environmental issues by imagining a beautiful, livable Earth that we want to see in the future.

Watch this video, Imagine the Future, by climate activist Xiye Bastida with your youth and children, then make art to submit to the #imagineIPL campaign by posting the art to IPL’s Facebook (honoring your family’s or community’s social media protocols).

Paint, draw, write a poem or a story, create a meme, a short movie, write a new song and film it, etc. OK for adults to collaborate with children on a project, but be sure the childrens’ voices are heard.

3) Support

Help the youth in your congregation identify a local grassroots climate action to take part in, being mindful that their participation is a positive activist experience. Take part with them. Build relationships with this grassroots effort, don’t try to take it over. Connect with your state IPL affiliate to learn about local or state opportunities.

Here’s one idea: Help your youth and children present to their congregation, school board, or city council with the moral call to act on climate. It doesn’t have to be heavy on science or solutions, just kids asking grown ups to make a plan to reduce emissions. See this short film on how kids and adults worked together to pass a local plan to address climate change.

Bless them in your congregation’s worship service before they head out to take part in climate action (see enclosed blessing).

Preach or give a talk about intergenerational climate justice, the efforts of youth and children in your congregation acting to heal the earth, the court case Juliana v United States, or the case in your state. Find sermon/talk resources here:

and here:

Encourage youth by sending supportive messages in letters, in announcements during worship services, in congregational newsletters. Express your appreciation for their efforts to care for our common home.

The bond of sacred trust between generations is strengthened as we work together to create a livable future for all our children, grandchildren, and future generations. We are nurturing new leaders and demonstrating our commitment to ensure a stable climate where people live in right and just relationship, interconnected with a healthy and thriving natural world.

Add your public events to the national calendar to show the world that as people of faith and conscience we are all doing our part: For more information contact



“People of color, indigenous communities, low- income communities and young people face a significantly higher risk of experiencing the impacts of climate change.” ―Vic Barrett, plaintiff in Juliana v. United States

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” "No voice is as morally powerful and persuasive as that of youth. One of the most important acts a pastor or youth minister can take to address our climate is to hand over the microphone and the pulpit to a climate prophet of the younger generation." ~ Brooks Berndt, UCC, Environmental Minister

“It is in our nature to want to fight for the health of the planet. This life is a gift and it is our responsibility to respect and protect that which gives us life.” ― Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, hip hop artist and former youth director of Earth Guardians“We youth are going to fight for our future. You have to be there to support us, to be allies, and to make sure our voices are not being stepped on” ~ Aniya Butler, Youth v the Apocalypse

"When the Earth is hurting, human beings are hurting as well. It's important to act on that interconnectedness." ~ Noa Gordon-Guterman, Jewish Climate Action Network

"You're never too young to take action. You're never too young to be involved," ~ Alexandria Villaseñor, Fridays for Future

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world it leaves its children.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Our government makes profit a priority over protecting our right to a sustainable future. My generation, without voting rights, hasn't been fairly represented in making decisions that will affect our lives." ~ Nathan Baring, Fairbanks, Alaska, plaintiff in Juliana v. United States

“We often think of future generations when talking about climate, but my generation is already feeling the impacts of climate change. If we want a livable planet for all, we need drastic action now.” ~ Sofia Gilani, Climate Action Advocate, Green Muslims

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Rick Bonetti
Apr 23, 2022

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