Pandemic Drives Earth Day Celebrations Into the Great Indoors

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 has become the latest calendar event to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

(photo by jdross75,
(photo by jdross75,
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A billion people worldwide are expected to observe regulations to stem the spread of the coronavirus by participating in online celebrations of the event that supporters claim is the largest secular observance on the globe.

This year’s celebration comes at a time when public gatherings have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic—an unprecedented crisis that has prompted people to reflect on their lives as well as the state of public health.

“Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day,” Earth Day Network, which describes itself as “the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement,” announced on the Earth Day website. “It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.”

Some 20 million Americans marked the first Earth Day in 1970, “outraged by oil spills, smog and polluted rivers,” in the words of the United Nations Environment Program. They flooded the nation’s “streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development, which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts,” according to

This year, many faith-based organizations are marking Earth Day’s 50th anniversary online. Among them is Hazon. The word is Hebrew for “vision” and the organization calls itself a “Jewish lab for sustainability.”  Hazon invited people to blow the shofar, a traditional ram’s horn, at noon Eastern time on April 22, as a sign of celebration as well as a call to teshuva, which the group’s CEO, Nigel Savage, described in a statement as a call to“repentance and to changing our behaviors.”

Hazon initially planned for 50 rabbis and leaders to blow the shofar in New York City’s Times Square, which has been closed by the pandemic. The organization now hopes to set a Guinness World Record for the most people from different places blowing a shofar at the same time, according to Religion News Service, which also quotes Hazon as saying that people of all faiths are welcome to participate by blowing trumpets, banging drums and ringing church bells.

“Man has gotten up to the potential of destroying the planet. He must be pushed on up to the capability and actions of saving it.”—L. Ron Hubbard

The Washington National Cathedral is scheduled to host a Facebook live event titled “Honest to God: Earth Day,” at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation, is expected to hold a panel discussion on healing the Earth.

“COVID-19 has forced us to acknowledge the web of life that connects us and all creation,” Episcopal News Service quoted Spellers as saying. “I pray we will really look around on Earth Day … be grateful and swear to protect and honor all that God has made.”

“Man has gotten up to the potential of destroying the planet. He must be pushed on up to the capability and actions of saving it.”—L. Ron Hubbard

The Parliament of the World’s Religions, a Chicago-based organization devoted to promoting interfaith harmony and a just, peaceful and sustainable world, is scheduled to co-host a webinar titled “Catholic-Buddhist Dialogue: Solidarity and Engagement on Climate Change,” at 10 a.m. on April 23. Other sponsors of the event include Earth Day Network, Catholic Climate Covenant and the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies.

Green Ramadan, a Muslim organization devoted to a meatless observance of the holy month of Ramadan, which kicks off April 23, will invite Imam Adeyinka “Muhammad” Mendes, a resident scholar at the Muslim Center of Greater Princeton, New Jersey, to speak at its weekly “Khalifa Conversations” series aimed at discussing practical ways to follow Islam’s environmental spirit in life.

“Man has gotten up to the potential of destroying the planet. He must be pushed on up to the capability and actions of saving it,” Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote in 1980 in The Way to Happiness, a booklet of 21 nonreligious precepts crafted to counter society’s eroding moral values while offering a roadmap for life accessible to anyone of any age, class, culture or race. The booklet’s 12th precept, “Safeguard and Improve Your Environment,” is remarkably prescient about our current climate crisis. 

The worldwide network of Scientology Churches regularly brings local communities together at open houses dedicated to promoting mutual cooperation in achieving the goals of ecological balance and responsibility. The Scientology Network also promotes this vision in its Documentary Showcase series. Films on the subject of preserving the planet outnumber any other theme featured on the Showcase.

One such film, The Clean Bin Project, airs this Friday. It’s an entertaining, enlightening and uplifting 60-minute story about a yearlong competition between partners to determine which one of them can get closest to living without producing any waste whatsoever.


From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.

The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.

For more information visit the Scientology website or Scientology Network.

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