Religion and Climate Change

Religion and Climate Change

Laser Talk

Question:  Isn’t there a conflict between religion and science over climate change?

Answer:  Not according to most people of faith. Most of the world’s major faith groups and religious leaders see no conflict. In fact, they overwhelmingly acknowledge that climate change is real, the burning of fossil fuels is causing it, and we humans have a moral responsibility to correct it. Powerful statements to that effect have come from Roman Catholics [1], Episcopalians [2], Evangelical Christians [3], Presbyterians [4], Methodists [5], Muslims [6], Jews [7], Christian Orthodox [8], Hindus [9], Buddhists [10], and many others [11].

We can’t ignore the fact that some sincere people of faith disagree, especially in the U.S., where suspicion of science runs strong in some faith communities. But there are signs that this can change, as evidenced by these words from a 2008 Southern Baptist declaration about global warming [12] …

Humans must be proactive and take responsibility for our contributions to climate change—however great or small.

… and these from a 2016 statement signed by 232 evangelical pastors in 44 states [3] …

Love of God, love of neighbor, and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for evangelical Christians to respond to the climate change problem with moral passion and concrete action.

In a Nutshell: The majority of faith traditions respect the science showing that climate change is real and caused by human activity. Christian, Muslims, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist organizations have all made statements pleading with national leaders to take the ethically necessary steps needed to reverse global warming.

  1. Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI’ of the Holy Father Francis, on Care for our Common Home. Vatican Press (24 May 2015).
  2. Welby, J., Archbishop of Canterbury. “Our Moral Opportunity on Climate Change.” New York Times (3 Nov 2017).
  3. “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” Statement of the Evangelical Climate Initiative (2016).
  4. “In Support of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (HR 763).” Presbyterian Mission (12 Feb 2019).
  5. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, p. 160 (2016).
  6. “Islamic Climate Change Calls for Zero Emissions Strategy.” International Institute for Sustainable Development (20 Aug 2015).
  7. “Judaism, Climate Change, and Laudato Si’.” Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (Aug 2015).
  8. “Message by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 24) (Poland).” (Dec 2018).
  9. Hindu Declaration on Climate Change. Oxford Center for Hindu Studies/Bhumi Project (2015).
  10. “Statement on Climate Change from the Institute of Buddhist Studies.” Buddhist Temple of San Diego (21 Oct 2019).
  11. “Climate Change Statements from World Religions.” The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale (accessed 20 Dec 2019).
  12. Merritt, J. A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change. Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative (13 Mar 2008).

This page was updated on 05/06/21 at 16:30 CDT.