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Keystone XL: People of Faith Say 'All Risk, No Reward'

by Richard Cizik 04-30-2013
Photo by © Steven Edson

Richard Cizik at the anti-Keystone Faith Rally in Boston. Photo by © Steven Edson

A pipeline that will run from Canada, through the Midwest, and down to the Gulf Coast, the purpose of Keystone is to transport tar sands oil, which is more toxic than conventional oil, to ports where it can be processed and shipped overseas. In fact, the only oil that is guaranteed to stay in the U.S. is what will be spilled in communities and on farmlands. We saw this happen recently when a similar pipeline spilled in Arkansas. And, as for the promise of jobs, independent studies say fewer than 50 permanent jobs will be created by this project. Keystone is a deal in which America gets all the risk without any reward.

It's time for our leaders to take a stand and to stop supporting projects that only perpetuate our dependence on toxic, dirty sources of energy that contribute to climate change. But in the world of politics, it's not enough for something to be a moral imperative to get people to act. It is the nature of politics, and democracy, that our leaders respond when they feel the political pressure to do so. As people of faith, we have a powerful voice in our country. Keystone would not have been an issue in the Massachusetts Senate race if local religious communities had not made it clear that it is important.

Knocking at Freedom's Door

by Richard Cizik 07-01-1998
The church in China is finding new openness—but only when the state says so.

For three weeks in February 1998, a delegation of U.S. religious leaders made a historic visit to the People’s Republic of China. Selected by President Clinton and invited by President Jiang Zemin, the delegation’s unprecedented mission was to begin a dialogue with top government officials in China on the subject of religious freedom. The delegates said they knew the dangers of such a state-sponsored visit—especially the risk of co-option by their hosts—but felt they were able to voice criticisms, broaden awareness, and introduce a new perspective on religious freedom to many Chinese officials.

Rev. Richard Cizik, a policy analyst for the National Association of Evangelicals and a staff member for the delegation, said he has been preparing for this trip since reading Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth as a child. Cizik received a graduate fellowship to the National Political Science University in Taiwan in the early 1970s, and visited the garrison coastal islands of Quemoy and Matsu—the closest that an American with a Republic of China passport could get to mainland China at that time. "Looking through binoculars from one of the concrete bunkers built to house artillery batteries," he said, "I promised God that I would someday get to the mainland." This year he fulfilled that promise. —The Editors

"We’re here to build a spiritual bridge between the United States and China," the rabbi, minister, and archbishop calmly explained. At least a dozen reporters with cameras, including representatives of Xin Hua, the official Chinese News Agency, crowded the entryway of the White Cloud Daoist Temple to interview the highest level delegation of its kind at the start of a three week mission on behalf of religious freedom.

"Don’t you think you are being used by the Chinese government for propaganda purposes?" a reporter from Reuters inquired.

"Except my mother and me, the entire Schneier family died in Nazi concentration camps," the rabbi responded. "I know what it means to be manipulated by authorities, and that’s not going on here."