Religion and Climate Change

Laser Talk

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

Answer: Not at all. 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.

  1. Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI’ of the Holy Father Francis, on Care for our Common Home. Vatican Press (24 May 2015).
  2. “Sustaining Hope in the Face of Climate Change.” Statement of the Episcopal Church, the Church of Sweden, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (2 May 2013).
  3. “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” Statement of the Evangelical Climate Initiative (2016).
  4. “The Power to Change: U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming.” 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)(Apr 2009).
  5. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. Global Stewardship section (2016).
  6. Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. International Islamic Climate Change Symposium (18 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. “Buddhist Statement to World Leaders 2015.” Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective (29 Oct 2015).
  11. Whitney, L. and E. Whitney. “Faith-Based Statements on Climate Change.” Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Jun 2012).
  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 05/17/18 09:50 CDT.

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