The Religious Community's Other Stand on Global Warming

Much of the religious community is opposed to extreme environmentalism and its most recent manifestation, the Kyoto Protocol

This article was originally published on Beliefnet for Earth Day 2001


A flurry of news stories in recent weeks suggests a monolithic, nationwide response within the religious community to President Bush's decision to scrap the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

The movement depicted often speaks in apocalyptic terms and looks to government regulation of the economy to protect us. However, these stories mistake a small but well-funded effort on the part of some in the religious community for a consensus within the entire religious community.

In fact, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the National Council of Churches' Interfaith Global Warming Campaign have received little support from the faithful in the pews. Efforts in the 22 states currently operating climate campaigns average fewer than 50 supporters per state. And these endorsers rarely represent their denominations. Nevertheless, organizers claim to speak authoritatively for America's faithful.


Fortunately, much of the religious community remains opposed to extreme environmentalism and its most recent manifestation in the form of the Kyoto Protocol. Thousands of America's most influential religious leaders recently signed the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, which rejects the shaky science behind global warming and calls for a more balanced approach to environmental policy.

The cold reception among religious leaders to efforts that limit fossil fuel use is understandable. Over 17,000 scientists signed a petition circulated by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine saying, in part, "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."

The threat posed to the economy by the climate treaty, on the other hand, a worry expressed by both business and labor leaders alike, raises significant concerns.

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