The Weekend Wonk: Climate and Christians

April 15, 2018


The battle between ​evangelical Christians in the US over whether climate change is a call to protect the Earth, the work of God to be welcomed, or doesn’t exist at all.  Evangelicals in the US have traditionally been the bedrock of conservative politics, including on climate change. But a loud debate is happening across the country, with some Christians protesting in the name of protecting the Earth, seeing it as a duty to be done in God’s name. ​One group has even built a chapel in the way of a pipeline and a radical pastor encourages his flock to put themselves in the way of the diggers. A firm supporter of Trump criss-crosses the country promoting solar power.

But there’s still the traditional resistance – a climate scientist who denies the world is warming and a preacher in Florida who sees the fact he was flooded out as a good sign of divine presence. With stories from across the country featuring pastors and churchgoers, and showing conflict between generations, races and classes, could it be a surprising section of Christian Americans who might show hope for the country’s attitude to climate change?

After dominating much of American politics for the past 40 years, white evangelical Protestants are now facing a sharp decline. Nearly one-third of white Americans raised in evangelical Christian households leave their childhood faith.2 About 60 percent of those who leave end up joining another faith tradition, while 40 percent give up on religion altogether. The rates of disaffiliation are even higher among young adults: 39 percent of those raised evangelical Christian no longer identify as such in adulthood. And while there is always a good deal of churn in the religious marketplace — people both entering and leaving faith traditions — recent findingssuggest that membership losses among white evangelical Protestants are not being offset by gains.

As a result, the white evangelical Protestant population in the U.S. has fallen over the past decade, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2016. But equally troubling for those concerned about the vitality of evangelical Christianity, white evangelical Protestants are aging. Today, 62 percent of white evangelical Protestants are at least 50 years old. In 1987, fewer than half (46 percent) were. The median age of white evangelical Protestants today is 55.

Below – No Religion needed to appreciate climate as a moral issue.


11 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Climate and Christians”

  1. Jim Siverly Says:

    God’s Word calls us to worship Him, not the earth. How does subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28) get interpreted as protect the environment? We all want clean air and water. However, our motivation should be our own well-being, but not allegiance to some unknown planetary spirit.

    What is driving this climate change debate? Is it fear that the CO2 human activity produces is warming the globe? Where’s the evidence? For centuries, glaciers have been melting and sea levels rising. Wouldn’t that happen no matter what the cause?
    Is there any definitive proof that humans are largely responsible for climate change caused by emissions of CO2? If so, where does the evidence come from? Can you explain your belief based on your own research or are you taking the word of someone else, perhaps from news reports that 97% of climate scientists believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to be the case.

    What is truth? The Bible says Pontius Pilate asked Jesus that question before giving in to crucifying him. Is the Biblical record of Jesus’ life true? Where is that evidence? Mostly from the word of Jesus’ disciples who witnessed his death and resurrection. Ten of the twelve disciples suffered their own deaths for the truth they subsequently proclaimed and testified to.

    Are any climate scientists prepared to die for their belief in AGW?

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    “The battle between ​evangelical Christians in the US over whether climate change is a call to protect the Earth, the work of God to be welcomed, or doesn’t exist at all. ”

    My heart cries out for a verb. “is” maybe?

    Feel free to delete this post after reading.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    Younger folks are perhaps less less hypocritical than their elders and therefore can’t tolerate the misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that seem to dominate the evangelical worldview. A good piece on one aspect:

    An excerpt:

    “The history of white Evangelical Christianity in this country can be summarized much like George Orwell summarized the totalitarian state in his seminal novel, “1984”:

    If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

    But it’s a little more like this:

    If you want a picture of Evangelical Christianity, imagine a boot stamping on a woman’s face — forever”.

    You might add minorities, immigrants, and the biosphere to that sentence.

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    If anyone feels the need to throw up, this popped after The Climate and the Cross. This is what the other side applauds and believes—–sickening.

  5. ubrew12 Says:

    I once told some Dutch dudes that it didn’t matter how much money they had, or how many ‘Hail Mary’s’ they threw at the Pope, the satellite they were contracting us to build simply couldn’t handle the number of transponders (channels) they wanted to put on it without burning up. Of course, they hemmed and hawed, but at the end of the day, when you’re up against Newton and Galileo, you’re going to do what the calculations tell you to do…

    Earth is a satellite with a thermal problem. I can do this kind of work in my sleep, having done it my entire professional career. And, as with that Dutch satellite, you can spend as much time as you need throwing money at the problem, and pray to whatever God helps you sleep at night, but at the end of the day you’re going to do what the calculations allow you to do, and not a penny more. It is what it is. There are no ‘deep pockets’ deeper than the heat-sink of Space. It is singularly unmoved by how much money you have, how many medals, or how drenched you feel with the Grace of God.

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