The Clergy Letter Project today endorsed Hillary Clinton's bid to become President of the United States of America.
Clinton's perspective on the issues that are central to The Clergy Letter Project's work make this endorsement an easy choice. The Clergy Letter Project consists of more than14,000 clergy members from all corners of the United States who adamantly believe that religion and science can be compatible endeavors. The organization promotes the teaching of evolution in public school science classrooms and laboratories as well as respecting the scientific expertise of the world's scientists. Finally, the faith of members of The Clergy Letter Project is not threatened by scientific knowledge.
A simple, four item questionnaire was presented to both the Clinton and the Trump campaigns. Clinton's responses were articulate and forceful statements that mirrored the goals of The Clergy Letter Project. The Trump campaign did not respond.
When asked whether she felt that science was a threat to her faith, Clinton noted, "America's founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason. So science is no threat to faith. The Epistle of James tells us we cannot just be 'hearers' of the word, we must be 'doers.' Science helps us be doers. Science shows us how to understand more deeply the profound mysteries of our universe and the glory of God's earth."
When asked whether the best available science should guide public policy, Clinton responded by saying, "Absolutely. The best available science helps guide all kinds of things that are essential to government - like rules protecting the public health and the safety of workers on the job, priorities for research and development, and using new technologies and the latest science to make public programs work better."
Clinton also made her position on the teaching of evolution very clear: "As the theory that is nearly universally accepted by scientists, the result of human reason and rigorous inquiry, the teaching of evolution belongs in public school science classes and labs. I believe in the theory of evolution, an elegant theory which has unlocked incredible understanding about life on Earth."
Finally, Clinton's position on the role humans are playing in climate change was unambiguous: "Climate change is real, it is being driven by human activity, it is happening right now--and we know that its burdens will fall most heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society."
Clinton's full responses to the questionnaire are posted on The Clergy Letter Project's web page.
Although the Trump campaign opted not to respond to The Clergy Letter Project's questionnaire, it is possible to gain a sense of what his positions might be given what he and his running mate have said in other contexts in the past. Trump's position on anthropogenic climate change has been very clear. On numerous occasions, over many years, he has totally dismissed the scientific consensus on the topic and referred to climate change as a hoax.
In his response to the on-line Presidential Science Debate question about climate change, Trump said that "There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of 'climate change.'" He then went on to offer suggestions on better ways to spend our "limited financial resources."
Like others who have tried to determine Trump's position on evolution, I've been unsuccessful in finding any public statements he's made on the topic. CNN reported last August that Roger Stone advised Trump to respond to questions on the subject in the Republican presidential debates by saying, "I believe in both." Perhaps we can read something from his selection of Mike Pence as his running mate since Pence has gone on the record on the subject. In 2009, in an interview with Chris Matthews, he refused to say that he accepts evolution. Instead, he repeatedly replied, "I embrace the view that God created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that's in them." He went on to add, "I think, in our schools, we should teach all of the facts about all of these controversial areas and let our children and our children's children decide."
The record, such as it is, indicates that Trump and his campaign, have taken a position that is fully at odds with the world's scientists and with The Clergy Letter Project.
The Clergy Letter Project, therefore, has enthusiastically endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton. She has articulated positions that are fully consistent with the 14,000 clergy members who have signed one of our four Clergy Letters (from Christian clergy, from rabbis, from Unitarian Universalist clergy and from Buddhist clergy).
It is well worth noting that the thousands upon thousands of clergy members who comprise The Clergy Letter Project come from a wide range of religions and traditions. Additionally, The Clergy Letter Project has been officially endorsed by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA). In other words, this endorsement of Clinton's candidacy comes from a huge swath of the country's religious mainstream.