Rabbis Join Interfaith Anti-Fracking Event in Harrisburg

MORALtorium against fracking

Religious leaders lobby against fracking.

Clergy and religious leaders from different faith communities across Pennsylvania came together to express their opposition to fracking at the MORALtorium Rally & Lobby Day which took place at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. These religious leaders consider fracking to be a moral issue because of the danger it poses to people and the environment. Their efforts at the Capitol that day reflected the support of 17 faith-based and environmental organizations.

Five rabbis were among the clergy in attendance at the event. They included Rabbi Daniel Swartz, rabbi of Temple Hesed in Scranton and president of the board of the Pennsylvania chapter of Interfaith Power & Light; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center in West Mt. Airy; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Elkins Park; Rabbi Julie Greenberg, spiritual leader of Congregation Leyv Ha’ir in Center City; and Rabbi Carl Choper, executive director of the Religion and Society Center in Harrisburg. Rabbi Waskow delivered the invocation at the rally, and Rabbi Swartz was one of the featured speakers.

Among others who led prayers and spoke at the event were members of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie; the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, located across from the Capitol; leaders of the Muslim community in Pittsburgh; and leaders of the Buddhist, Bahai and Unitarian Universalist communities.

The shared goals of the faith-based groups involved in this event are the following: (1) the enactment of a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing wells and on the development of related infrastructure; (2) full funding for the examination of existing wells and for the cleanup of contaminated wells; (3) support for renewable energy and for the jobs that come with it; and (4) transition support and retraining of workers for the renewable energy sector.

The MORALtorium leaders held a prayer service invoking G-d’s command for the protection and healing of the earth and of the human communities and families injured by fracking. They also participated in a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda. Later, the group met with individual legislators, asking them to sign a letter to Governor Wolf in which they would express their support for a moratorium on new unconventional drilling and would commit to watching “Groundswell Rising,” a documentary on the grass roots movement against fracking.

In his prepared remarks, Rabbi Swartz said:

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light works to lift up the voice of faith communities around our state — and those voices have joined together to call for justice for people and the earth, for investments in a clean, sustainable future for all, for protection of the most vulnerable and for preservation of the goodness of G-d’s creation. If we stand together, we can make these voices heard and help our legislators to heed their better angels.

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