Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment: A Campaign to Raise Awareness of the Environment and Discover Common Ground in the Judeo-Christian and Buddhist Communities

Monday, February 27, 2006

Evangelicals and Global Warming

In February a new coalition called the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) released at statement, Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, that calls on the U.S. government to pass legislation that will limit carbon dioxide emissions (view statement and a list of signatories on the ECI website). The statement was signed by 35 Christian college presidents, Rick Warren (author of The Purpose-Driven Life), David Neff (editor of Christianity Today magazine), and the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).

Noticably absent from the signatories was the current NAE president Ted Haggard and Focus on the Family's James Dobson. Haggard did not sign the statement because he worried it would imply endorsement by the NAE. Several weeks before the statement was officially released Dobson and other prominent evangelicals sent a letter to the NAE encouraging them not to endorse the statement because of disagreement in the evangelical community over the severity of the issue.

Evangelicals are overwhelming associated with the Republican party which is why their efforts to raise awareness on climate change have generated so much press. Despite the lack of support from Dobson and official support from the NAE, the signers of the statement are described as a centrist group by Ron Sider, a signer of the petition and liberal evangelical. Further 2o NAE board members have signed the statement even though the NAE isn't officially endorsing the position. A survey sponsored by the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) found that 49% of politically conservative evangelicals agreed with the statement that "global warming is a long-term problem, we are causing the problem today, so we must begin addressing the issue immediately." If politcally conservative evangelicals encouraged the politicians they support to respond to global warming this could be a very strong boost to the environmental movement. It is unclear from the EEN survey, however, how important environmental issues are to these evangelicals compared to other issues.

The ECI statement encourages the government to pass legislation limiting carbon dioxide emissions. If the ECI can convince lawmakers that not supporting this sort of legislation might lose them evangelical votes than it is possible that it could be influential. However, if evangelicals continue to vote for candidates who do not support climate change legislation because they support other causes that are important to them, then it seems like the document would not cause much actual change.

Evangelicals Split on Global Warming
(The Christian Century, March 7, 2006)

Evangelicals will not take a stand on Global Warming
(The Washington Post, February 2, 2006)

Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative
(The New York Times, February 8, 2006)

The New Climate Coalition
(Christianity Today, February 6, 2006)
*Christianity Today is an evangelical magazine and has an extensive list of articles and links related to this topic

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