New Political Ad Urges Americans to 'Tend God's Garden'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - The liberal-leaning National Council of Churches is running a new ad Thursday that asks people of faith to "pray for a change of heart and direction" on environmental issues. In other words, vote against Bush and candidates who support his policies.

"WANTED: Political Leaders to Tend God's Garden" says the headline of the ad, which will run in newspapers in five states: Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Oregon.

The ad asks readers to sign a prayer petition asking political candidates to make environmental issues a priority.

"Protecting God's Earth is a uniting call among our churches, and politicians need to address the concern we have for God's glorious creation," said the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, the NCC's general secretary, in a press release. "We are calling on all candidates and political leaders to make caring for creation a top priority."

Edgar said the ads were created in response to "growing environmental degradation and a lack of political action to protect the environment."

The petition asks political candidates to "consider environmental issues such as air and water pollution, climate change, forest protection, and biodiversity."

According to the NCC, the American religious community has played an increasingly prominent national role on environmental issues by calling for "moral leadership" from policymakers.

The NCC press release makes it clear that such "moral leadership" has not been forthcoming from President Bush: "Recently, 100 Christian leaders chastised President Bush's air pollution policy, and in an unprecedented alliance, prominent religious leaders from a broad range of religious beliefs joined forces with eminent scientists to issue a call for action on global warming," the NCC said.

President Bush opposes an international treaty on "global warming," saying it would harm the American economy and create job losses at home.

"God asked us to tend the garden and to leave God's creation whole and healthy for generations to come," said Cassandra Carmichael, the director of NCC's eco-justice program.

"We need political leaders who will honor God's command and commit to being better stewards of our air, water, wild lands and wildlife."

In addition to calling on political leaders to make God's creation a priority, the ad also asks people of faith to commit to take action to "protect God's good earth."

The NCC describes itself as the largest ecumenical body in the U.S. with 36 member denominations representing more than 100,000 churches and more than 45 million Christians.

The NCC opposes war in general and the war in Iraq in particular; it advocates a foreign policy based on "global cooperation." It urges a reduction of disparities between rich and poor; and it calls for "fair" immigration policies, affordable and accessible health care, and "racial justice.""