[Arizona Daily Star]

With a belief that they must speak out for the silent, some people of faith in Tucson are giving a voice to Mother Nature.

Fueled by heightened media attention to global warming, worshippers and congregations are turning their attentions to the environment. They view protecting the Earth as a justice issue, infusing it with a passion that many historically devoted to ending racial, gender and economic inequality.
Other groups, including the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northwest Tucson, sell compact fluorescent light bulbs as a way of encouraging worshippers to replace their incandescent bulbs with ones that last longer and use less energy.

The church also is considering banning non-vegetarian food from its premises.

"Eating beef is a huge pollutant of the Earth," said the church's minister, Susan Manker-Seale, who posts the menu of the local vegan restaurant Lovin' Spoonfuls on her church's walls and has the restaurant cater events. "We're not trying to force people to do anything, but we do want to inspire them to learn."

Manker-Seale's congregation recently voted to become a Green Sanctuary, part of a program within the Unitarian Universalist denomination that requires congregations to complete steps, including a community "green" project.

Vegetarianism is one of the less popular ways of going green, but Manker-Seale believes more people should be paying attention to damaging effects of the meat industry.

Animal-welfare groups have recently begun promoting a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report that says the livestock business generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

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