"Life, especially protecting our unborn children and infants, should not be a ‘matter of party or economic commodity.’ Protecting life and providing the opportunity for abundant life must be a matter of principal and morality.”
~ The Rev. Mitch Hescox, delivering a testimony on “A Christian Perspective on the Costs of Mercury to Human Health and Wellbeing” before the Energy and Power Subcommittee for the House of Representatives.
Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), briefly quoted John Boehner’s Jan. 23 March for Life Rally address at the beginning of his testemony. And if you were about to think, “Wow, John Boehner showed up at an environmentalist rally,” I should say that the March for Life Rally was about being anti-abortion, not pro-environment.
Context aside, Hescox reminds us that all life is sacred, and we cannot protect our life without protecting the environment.
For example, mercury, a deadly neurotoxin, is a waste product from coal-burning power plants. The mercury pollutes the air, which pollutes the rain, which pollutes the rivers, which pollute the fish, which pollute us. Do you ever wonder why there are warnings for pregnant women on fish and shellfish? It’s not because fish it’s bad for pregnant women, it’s because the mercury that is present within fish is dangerous for the baby. All life is sacred. We cannot protect human life without protecting the environment.
Hescox also reminded Congress that protecting the poor and vulnerable means protecting the environment. He tells the following story:
“As part of his Christian witness, EEN staff member Ben Lowe chooses to live in a low income community in DuPage County, IL. Many of his neighbors fish regularly to provide protein for their families. Ben, an avid angler, reports an event while fishing in the Chicago River. Knowing the river had fish consumption advisories, Ben was about to release his catch, when a man walked up and asked for it, to feed his family. Ben attempted to explain that the fish was full of toxins such as mercury, which would hurt his children. It’s OK, the man said, they need the food. Ben ended up giving him the fish, but no, it is not ok. Nowhere in America should a family have to choose between eating poison and going hungry.”
The EPA did release new national standards for Mercury
in December, which is great. The decision was applauded by many groups in the faith community, including the National Association of Evangelicals, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Hescox’s own EEN. Fittingly he closes with Psalm 82:3:
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
James Colten is a campaigns assistant at Sojourners.