Remember Juliette or Forsake the Call of Christ

By Codi Norred, Program Director

What pride is it to poison the free gifts of God? What pride even still is it to poison the free gifts of God, and then give it back to the people and pretend it is clean?

Two weeks ago, more than 400 people gathered in church sanctuaries in both Juliette and Forsyth, GA to voice their concerns over the contamination of their drinking water due to the leaking coal ash ponds at Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer. For years, these coal ash ponds have been leaching toxins into the local drinking water supply. Without this knowledge, these communities have continued to drink the toxic water. At some of these family wells, the presence of hexavalent chromium, just one of the abundant carcinogens and toxicants, is more than 500 times over the threshold established in other states. Georgia has no such threshold.

What sin is this? A community gathers in the rain to talk about the water they cannot drink. God pours clean water out of the sky to fill the lakes and streams, and yet, that water continues to be poisoned. Due to the improper storage of waste, the good water of God is poisoned, and that water continues to poison God’s people in Juliette, GA.

Our faith compels us to get involved and solve this issue because the lives of children, families, and neighbors depend on it. If we do not get involved, we are turning our back on God’s call on our lives to care for the Garden and our neighbors. So too, if utilities, decision makers, and politicians choose to forget Juliette, they are turning their backs on the call of the living God on their life in favor of choosing ignorance and sin.

There is no poisoned water in the Kingdom of God. “On Earth as it is in Heaven,” means access to clean water for everyone.

From the beginning of the Christian story, God hovered over the water, parted the sea to bring God’s people out of Egypt, caused stones to break open in the desert and pour out clean water. In the psalms and proverbs, the poems proclaim the glory of God by referencing the earth, and water. Jesus walked on it, tamed it, changed it, and healed with it. He was submerged in it to start his ministry through baptism. At the end of the story in Revelation, the Throne of God in the new creation is said to pour out crystal clear, and clean, living water.

God and Jesus Christ know something about clean water. They have a stake in it. It is in the beginning and it is in the final promise.

God doesn’t wish poisoned water on anyone. We care about clean water and about each other’s health because it is holy work to do so. It’s as simple as that. God’s will is for clean water and healthy people. To approve of and to endorse anything other than that is to be in unholy rebellion.

Remember Juliette. Then do something about it.

Learn more about the Problem with Coal Ash and ways you can take action.

Codi Norred leads all policy and outreach efforts as GIPL’s Program Director, spending much of his spring at the Capitol during the legislative session.  He also directs GIPL’s flagship programs, Power Wise and Solar Wise to bring sustainable energy to communities of faith.  He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University with concentrations in Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation (JPCT), Theology and Ethics, and Human Rights. Also holding a BA in Religion from Samford University, Codi is interested in working at the intersection of religion, human rights, ethics, and the environment.