Evangelical Scientists Issue Faith-Based Call For Congress To Address Climate Change

(Credit: Shuttershock)

It’s a plea frequently made to Christians who turn a blind eye to climate change: The Bible gives humankind dominion over the planet, so isn’t humankind responsible for helping preserve it? A group of evangelical scientists think so — and they’re using scientific and biblical arguments to pressure congress to do something about climate change.

Last week, 200 self-identified evangelical scientists from secular and religious universities sent a letter to Congress calling for legislation to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment. The signatories, all of whom hold master’s or doctorate degrees in scientific fields, cited the biblical teachings of charity and compassion for the poor and the scientific evidence of increased extreme weather events to make the case for climate legislation:

The Bible tells us that “love does no harm to its neighbor” (Romans 13:10), yet the way we live now harms our neighbors, both locally and globally. For the world’s poorest people, climate change means dried-up wells in Africa, floods in Asia that wash away crops and homes, wildfires in the U.S. and Russia, loss of villages and food species in the Arctic, environmental refugees, and disease. Our changing climate threatens the health, security, and well-being of millions of people who are made in God’s image. The threat to future generations and global prosperity means we can no longer afford complacency and endless debate. We as a society risk being counted among “those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

The scientists are bucking a trend of skepticism about climate change among devout Christians — especially those in politics and the media. A LifeWay Research report released in April found that 54 percent of Protestant pastors don’t think climate change is real, and some of politics’ most outspoken Christians — Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, for example — virulently deny climate change is occurring. In order to accept climate science, evangelicals must find a way to unravel some of the bonds they’ve formed with the Tea Party mentality of climate skepticism, and also to address a widely-held belief among American evangelicals that contributes to their doubt of climate science: that God is the only one powerful enough to change something as major as the climate.

Jim Ball, executive vice president for policy and climate change at the Evangelical Environmental Network, told E&E Publishing that the evangelical community’s culture of climate skepticism also comes down to a matter of trust in science — something some Christians have historically struggled with. “There is a suspicion about science because of the debate in creation and evolution theory,” Ball said. “To have evangelical scientists, people of faith, saying to the evangelical community that you can trust this science is quite important. It’s all a matter of trust.”

It may be difficult for evangelicals to embrace a culture that accepts climate science — though as the scientists’ letter shows, it isn’t impossible (and they’ve done it before). But numerous religious people and organizations around the world have been waking up to the realities of climate change. The United Church of Christ, a Christian group known for its progressive stances on social issues, recently unveiled a climate change strategy that includes possibly divesting from fossil fuel companies. Bill McKibben, a well-known environmental activist, is vocal about his Methodist faith. And in March, the new pope was the first to adopt the name Francis, after the patron saint of animals and the environment, and his call for people to be “protectors of creation” in his inaugural address could serve as inspiration for Catholics around the world.

22 Responses to Evangelical Scientists Issue Faith-Based Call For Congress To Address Climate Change

  1. prokaryotes says:

    How the Koch brothers screwed over the climate even more than you know

    Since 2008, the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity has been urging candidates and politicians to sign its “No Climate Tax Pledge.” In 2010, we noted that many Republican House and Senate candidates had signed it, and in 2011, that at least one GOP presidential candidate had.

    But it turns out the pledge has been far more widespread and influential than most people realized.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Time to sign “The Climate Action Pledge”

  3. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Be fruitful; yup. Multiply; oh yea. Take care of the earth; er um.

    Then there is Revelations 11:18 something about destroying the destryers of the earth.

    Leviticus; the earth is going to vomit us up, because we are destroying the earth. Hey zombies.

  4. M Tucker says:

    Republicans in Congress have repeatedly demonstrated a complete lack of interest in charity and compassion. It doesn’t matter if it involves the poor or not. They are not interested in charity and compassion unless you contribute large sums of money to their campaigns. Then they will vote for subsidies and apologize to you during a session of congress to get it written into the record. Since the poor do not contribute large sums of money to Republican congress people they are pretty much condemned to suffering and death. Republicans call this “God’s will.”

  5. catman306 says:

    Have the Koch brothers and the super wealthy families they work for, hired the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to do their bidding?

  6. catman306 says:

    This article needs a link to Joe’s excellent posting introducing us to the ancient concept of usufruct.

    The Declaration of Interdependence And Jefferson’s ‘Brilliant Statement Of Intergenerational Equity Principles’

  7. M Tucker says:

    Republican nostalgia…the world Republicans wish they could return to:

    “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

    “Are there no prisons?”

    “Plenty of prisons.”

    “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

    “They are. Still, I wish I could say they were not.”

    “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?

    “Both very busy, sir.”

    “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.”

    “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude, a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

    “Nothing?” Scrooge replied.

    “You wish to be anonymous?”

    “I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides–excuse me–I don’t know that.”

    “But you might know it.”

    “It’s not my business. It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly.”

    “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

  8. Endofmore says:

    don’t mention this to Inhofe

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Keep that Hendra virus handy but be careful, it’s very deadly, ME

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Time to draw up laws for the prosecution of those responsible for gargantuan crimes against humanity (in my opinion the worst such in history) by actively denying the horror and frenetically working to stop any remedial action. These creatures know precisely what they are doing, and the general atmosphere of simply ignoring their culpability and letting them get away with it (are people simply frightened of them and their power?) has always bemused and troubled me. Let their psyches be troubled, if only a little, by the fear of justice in this world, and keep a shy hope for condign judgment in the next.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    There’s a movie script there, Rab.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    True Rightists do not do empathy, compassion or fellow-feeling. Precisely the exact opposite. Even where they do display a certain ersatz ‘love’, say for their wives and children, that is predominately love of property, and love of their own vicarious posterity. The Rightist ‘family’ is generally an authoritarian, even totalitarian, construct, with the patriarch demanding total obedience, and requiring the perpetuation of his patterns of behaviour and habits of thought. These are bedrock of the famous ‘conservative family values’.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Those are the ‘Victorian values’ that Thatcher was so fond of. Yet, after forty years of the most vicious reaction, people still pretend not to comprehend what the Right is really all about, and how our near-term destruction is being caused, primarily, by the total dominance, globally, of the Right, who represent the worst in human society.

  14. MarkF says:

    Yes. They should be.

    But lately only people like Tim De Christopher are charged and sent to jail.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s the glorious ‘Rule of Law'(TM), as Trayvon Martin’s parents also learned.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    catman, you mentioned the string-pullers, the puppet-masters. At most MSM sites, as soon as you even mention ‘Them’ tangentially, you’re scrubbed for good. You’re looking for trouble, old chap.

  17. Barry says:

    “The scientists are bucking a trend of skepticism about climate change among devout Christians …”

    There is no such thing – there’s a tribal campaign marker among the sort of ‘Christians’ who are happy with war, torture and spending vast sums of tax dollars on the rich.

  18. BillD says:

    Interestingly, Thatcher believed the science and was a proponent of acting on climate change.

  19. Superman1 says:

    Porcine-wash! A LETTER by a minuscule fraction of the Devout. When there is an issue they really care about, like abortion clinics, their actions are more closely related to their passion. Where is this linkage and passion when it comes to climate change, and its fossil fuel facility analogs of abortion clinics?

  20. Paul Vincelli says:

    Several months ago, the University of Kentucky hosted of forum on climate change with three excellent speakers who were all self-described conservatives. Liberals reported how they better understand that there are thoughtful conservative perspectives on, and solutions to, climate change, thus allowing for a broadened public discussion. In turn, conservatives in attendance learned the same thing. You can watch the recording of this event at The starting time for each speaker is noted at this page, so you can listen to the speakers of greatest interest to you.

  21. Paul Klinkman says:

    It helps a little bit for Evangelical scientists to think about the problem, but what Evangelicals need are middle-of-the-road Evangelicals thinking about the problem.

    I can offer the example of an early Quaker butcher whose inner Guide told him that he had to use honest weights in his business. He argued back NO, all the other butchers were using dishonest weights and he’d go bankrupt if he did. So finally, kicking and screaming, he went to honest weights. He didn’t go bankrupt. Actually, his business prospered.

    God needs to force Evangelicals down a number of tough roads, but roads that are in the end good.

    They must somehow forswear oil as much as possible. Those who have foresight will see the good that comes of this action, but many people are shortsighted.

    They must change their government somehow. They must get into their political parties, yes both of their parties, and fix them. Cmon, Christians, swallow your pride that you’re at least not touching the filth.

    Noah saved two of every animal along with his kids. If you’re on God’s side, you need to start thinking about saving two of every animal because they’re going to be long gone otherwise.

    Now, take the golden calf of “profits” and smash it down if it’s stopping you from doing the right thing by your God. The New Testament has no book of Adam Smith. Actually, Adam Smith was a moral philosopher who has been widely misinterpreted by generations of government grafters. Read the original for once.

    Do you know about Habitat for Humanity? Well, it’s not a for-profit company. We need Energy for Humanity! But you, like Jonah, are going to hightail it in exactly the opposite direction. Profits! Or better yet, ignore the silly idea as long as you can. Yeah, that’ll work for you.

    Actually, God can wait you out.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    However, in her Alzheimic later years the Tory Right had her mouth denialist cant, to encourage the Dunning-Kruger multitudes of the Tory ‘base’.One does wonder if a creature who got everything else in her baleful existence wrong, and never strayed from the path of Darkness, could actually have ever been correct about anything. It is a conundrum.