Sacred Landscapes: Exploring the Intersections of Spirituality and Land Stewardship
Join our annual MESA Symposium exploring Latter-day Saint and other spiritual perspectives on the sacred nature of land stewardship on November 11, 2023 beginning at 9:00 am.
Register here for this virtual, free event.
The recent designation of Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Northern Arizona has again stirred some political agitation over the creation of large national monuments in the American West. Debates and legal battles over monuments have been at the forefront of political discourse for many years, such as those surrounding Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, and Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.
A just-released poll shows only 26% of Utahns oppose the recent restoration of Bears Ears National Monument to its original size, with supporters outnumbering opponents by almost 2 to 1. Another recent poll shows 75% of Arizona voters support its new monument. The vast majority of Americans support such designations, as evidenced by a poll of individuals in eight Western Mountain States released early this year showing a strong preference of over 2.5 to 1 favoring preserving lands for wildlife habitat and conservation rather than using public lands for mining, extraction and other resource consumption. Given the overwhelming preference of constituents, it is troubling that many political leaders who are Latter-day Saints continue to challenge land protection and conservation measures, including the designation of national monuments.
While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral on specific matters related to land conservation and stewardship, its doctrine, values and beliefs clearly support such actions. An Earth Day commentary from 2018 states, “Ultimately, the earth is God’s property. Basic moral obligations compel us to act as good stewards and to not damage or harm what belongs to God; we should treat His creation with the heightened care it deserves, using the earth’s abundance in harmony with divine dictates and prudent principles of preservation… We commend those who seek to care for the earth in harmony with gospel principles.”
Consider these additional statements by current and former Church presidents:
“As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do? We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. And we are to love and care for one another.” – President Russell M. Nelson
“The earth in its pristine beauty is an expression of the nature of its Creator… I believe in the beauty of nature—the flowers, the fruit, the sky, the peaks and the plains from which they rise…the beauty of animals. I believe in beauty—the beauty of God’s unspoiled creations.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
“We are stewards over these earthly blessings which the Lord has provided…this soil and this water. In fact, we are morally obligated to turn this land over to those who succeed us — not drained of its fertility but improved in quality, in productivity, and in usefulness for future generations.” – President Ezra Taft Benson
“We recommend to all people that there be no undue pollution, that the land be taken care of…to be productive and to be beautiful.” – President Spencer W. Kimball
“Things upon the earth, so far as they have not been perverted by wickedness, are typical of things in heaven. Heaven was the prototype of this beautiful creation when it came from the hand of the Creator, and was pronounced ‘good’… We have eyes and see not, for that which we cannot appreciate or admire we are largely blind to, no matter how beautiful or inspiring it may be.” – President Joseph F. Smith
Our divine mandate is not passive. Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé’s message from his October 2022 General Conference talk asserts that “beyond being simply a scientific or political necessity, the care of the earth and our natural environment is a sacred responsibility.”
The Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance prioritizes conservation and land preservation, from the wise management and conservation of fertile and productive agricultural lands, to the preservation and restoration of public lands and other ecologically sensitive areas. We advocate strongly for the protection and respect of these places, and believe it’s our sacred duty to ensure they continue to thrive and provide benefit to all life, for generations to come.
The Church Gospel Topic page on Environmental Stewardship and Conservation states, “All are stewards—not owners—over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations.”
Join us for this faith-filled symposium as we explore the intersections between sacred perspectives on land stewardship and the collective opportunities to shape and reflect these values into sound public policy.