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Study: Evangelicals Trail Other Faiths on Global Warming

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) While a majority of white evangelicals believe there is solid evidence that the earth is warming, only one in three says human activity is the cause, according to a recent survey.
As the world celebrates Earth Day, a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows significant disagreement among U.S. religious groups on climate change and its causes.
Nearly half of all Americans blame global warming on human activity, according to the survey, but only 34 percent of white evangelical Protestants do the same. Seventeen percent of that group say natural patterns are the cause, and 31 percent are not convinced that the earth is warming at all.
That stance is at odds with black Protestants, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants, and religiously unaffiliated Americans, all of whom are significantly more likely to accept evidence of global warming, according to Pew.
Black Protestants (39 percent); white, non-Hispanic Catholics (44 percent); white mainline Protestants (48 percent); and religiously unaffiliated Americans (58 percent) are all also more likely to attribute climate change to humans, the survey found.
Daniel Burke
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • nnmns

    Interesting. I wonder if they have more trouble believing humans are powerful enough to seriously harm their god’s creation.
    Well the evidence is overwhelming and people need to adopt a sense of resolution to solve it. It won’t be easy, it won’t be fast and some parts will be unpleasant but we could all too easily leave our grandchildren a planet few of them could live on.

  • pagansister

    Guess they figure God would have told them if indeed humans were to blame, huh? Or maybe God is heating up the planet on purpose, after all she/he is in charge and since folks don’t like winter so much, pretty soon it’s going to be like Miami everywhere, all over the planet. HOT and miserable (yes, I’ve lived there).
    If they really don’t think humans are to blame for this situration, I guess they won’t be helping to “cool things down”.

  • Nate W

    I’m sure the statistics are 99% political. Evangelicals tend to be more wary of big government intervention than the other groups, and tend to be more likely to fear the damage that a powerful environmentalist lobby could do to their sense of individual freedom. Hence, they have a powerful political motivator to doubt that global warming is man-made and demands federal or international regulations on individual freedom.

  • Henrietta22

    I think Nate has it.

  • Your Name

    Meanwhile all of us will drive a vehicle, throw away a bag of trash and spray something today and every day of our lives. ahhh creature comforts til death do we part.

  • nnmns

    Nate you may well be right. What do you think is cause, what effect? Do they tend to be Evangelical because they are wary of big government or do they tend to be wary of big government because they are Evangelical or is there some third factor that tends to cause both?
    And I think it’s not “big government” per se, because many Evangelicals want to get government involved in our personal decisions but not perhaps our economic decisions. Both conservatives and liberals want big government, just in different ways. Interesting discussion, I’m anxious to hear what y’all think.

  • jestrfyl

    I consider it a good week when my recycling bin is more full than my trash barrel. This is happening more often these days.
    This is an observation and not intended as a dig – but why is it that many “evangelicals” decry big government but flock to mega-churches? Just a thought.
    Nate, I agree not only with this article, but with many – 99% of statistics ARE indeed political. Wrasslin’ them numbers is a fun game for any argument.

  • Henrietta22

    We started recycling in CA from the middle of the eighties by taking it in bags to the recycling area at the city dump in the city we lived in. We continued recycling here in MO from the beginning of the ninties, our disposal service has bins and you are billed for it. There is only a scattering of homeowners on our street that have these bins in front of their homes. Others may be doing things I’m not doing, so if everyone does something the results will help, instead of doing nothing.

  • Nate W

    So-called “conservative” Christianity in America–the fundamentalists, the evangelicals, the Pentecostals and Holiness Christians, etc.–have a long history of rugged individualism and suspicion of the “elites” and the government. There are several reasons for this, like the experience of life on the frontier, early American anti-British sentiments, and so forth. For the movement as a whole, I don’t think you can trace causation in either direction–their evangelicalism doesn’t cause traditional small-government conservatism (all recent capitulations to big-government agendas aside), nor does their conservatism cause their evangelicalism. I think that they’re two sides of a more fundamental attitude of wariness towards some “elite” somewhere else deciding what’s best for individuals, their families, and their local communities–the frontier mentality, in other words. American politics and religion have been deeply shaped by the experience of westward expansion.

  • nnmns

    So they don’t want anyone telling them what to do (though a lot of them are perfectly willing to tell others who they can’t marry and what they can’t do). And if you have to figure out what to do perhaps it’s comforting to think you’ve got an error-free instruction manual to turn to. Interesting.

  • jestrfyl

    Nate, you explanation is also the root of “congregational” polity. Though we had our roots in theocracies in the Mass Bay Colony, our polity comes from a distrust of ruling elites. I know the Virginian Colonists / rebels also wrestled with this. Congregational autonomy was the foundation for the Christian Church that merged witht he congregationalists, who eventually merged with the (German) Evangelical and Reformed to eventually created our beloved United Church of Christ. That autonomy is one of our hallmarks and keystones in our polity.
    All that being said, I hope “the evangelicals” in whatever form or flavor also recycle – either on their own or by using governmentally contracted recycling services.
    Turn out the lights and turn up the AC (or turn down the heat) when you leave, too.

  • Catherine Seward

    I honestly do not understand why the study has to be racist. There is no difference between the whites and the blacks and God even made that a fact. So this is sopposed to be a religious study but yet you seperate the colors of skin. Everyone is the same and to determine what you think about global warming shouldnt be by the color of your skin. I am in complete disagreement on this study.

  • nnmns

    Catherine there are things in our society that are racist; there’s a large political party with a lot of racists. But I don’t see this study as being racist.
    I think we all start off pretty similarly but we certainly have different experiences our whole lives; certainly blacks and hispanics and whites on average have different experiences. So I think it’s valid and of interest to see where different groups come down on all sorts of issues.

  • jestrfyl

    Catherine Seward,
    There is a great deal of racism, classism, and nationalism in the entire ecological discussion. Hazardous Waste materials and dumps of every sort are usually located in areas where poor or powerless people tend to live. If they are undocumented workers they are even more likely to live in areas no one else wants to go. Less affluent people tend to purchase the things that cost the least and cause the most environmental damage. The economics of poverty and environmentalism and global warming are so closely intertwined that there is little use to trying to untangle them. It is not that the poor or people of color are necessarily the cause. If anything they are often the first harmed.

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