If the new Interfaith Coalition on Energy has its way, the heavy sweater is about to become a religious garment.
Bundling up to compensate for thermostats lowered to 68 degrees is only one of the sacrifices that the newly formed, Washington-based coalition is asking church and synagogue members to make as part of a proposed "Covenant for Conservation."
The coalition, which includes Catholics, Protestants and Jews, is trying to harness religious commitment to the energy crisis.
In a capaign kicked off here last week, coalition leaders announced plans for a nationwide energy-saving effort rooted in the Judeo-Christian "belief in the responsibility God has given humankind to care for the earth and its environment," according to a statement of purpose.
"All energy resources on which the human race depends for heat, food and a multitude of cultural blessings... are gifts of our creator God, gifts which the Lord gives to supply the needs of all peoples," said the Rev. William H. Millerd of the Jesuit Social Ministries Office, acting director of the coalition.
Because excessive consumption and waste of energy by Americans "is a cause of social injustice at home and abroad," the coalition was formed, Miller said.
He said the group, "will work to encourage each and every church and synagogue in this nation to give energy conservation a major role in their educational programs and communal celebrations."
Central to their campaign is the "Covenant for Conservation" that individual members of churches and synagogues will be encouraged to sign.
The covenant provides a set of pledges that the church or synagogue member can sign and return to the coalition office here, while keeping a copy to remind the member of the pledges.
These pledges include:
Keeping a ceiling of 68 degrees on heating and 76 degrees on air conditioning.
Car-pooling, walking or taking public transportation as often as possible and considerably limiting pleasure driving.
Avoiding over-packaged goods highly refined and porcessed foods and nonreturnable containers or ones that can be recycled.
Insulating or otherwise improving the energy efficiency of dwellings.
Spending savings on education, health care, community organizations, etc., and not on energy-consuming activities.
The coalition, located on the eighth floor at 1413 K St. NW, also expects to have available sermon outlines and other material for pastors and rabbis.
The group plans eventually to help churches, synagogues and other religious organizations develop ways to conserve energy and promote solar energy and other renewable energy technologies.
The Interfaith Coalition on Energy includes social justice agencies of the American Baptist Churches, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ; the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, and the Jusuit Social Ministries Office.
Also joining the conservation campaign are the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Lutheran Council, the Washington office of the United Presbyterian Church, the Church of the Brethren and NET-WORK, an unofficial Roman Catholic organization concerned with legislation involving social justice issues.