Evangelicals May Now Hold Key to US Climate Action
Photo: Flickr, The U.S. National Archives, CC
If there's one broad group of activists that that is consistently under-publicized, it's the still-growing community of evangelical environmentalists. They may go unrecognized due to the fact that the outlets (like this one) that traditionally cover green activism don't quite know what to make of them, and mainstream media tend to relegate coverage to what amounts to a handful of novelty stories. And since evangelical environmentalists break with conservative ideology, good luck finding much mention at all of such groups in right-wing outlets. But make no mistake: they comprise what could become one of the most influential climate action movements in the US.Slate has a great story detailing the current state of evangelical environmentalism, and it offers a fascinating look of how a fractious but passionate movement is addressing the need for climate action today.
At the forefront of a growing evangelical "creation care" movement, [Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and former top lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals] was instrumental in launching the Evangelical Climate Initiative, which turned a lot of heads in February 2006. Originally signed by 86 evangelical leaders--the tally is now more than 350--the ECI states that human-caused climate change is real, that the impact will be felt disproportionately by the world's poor, and that Christians are called to take action. Pushback was fierce, and it still is.And no wonder -- given the severe politicization of global warming, and that most evangelicals are conservative, it's not surprising that the creation care movement is intensely controversial. But that makes it all the more important. The progressive community can blog all it wants about the need to address climate change with political action, and yell about how backwards Republican Congressmen are. Chances are, they won't be persuading too many folks across the aisle -- or among the pews -- that global warming is a threat, and that it needs to be addressed with substantive policy. Evangelical environmentalists have a shot.
Which is why more dyed-in-the-wool green groups and nonprofits should work on finding ways to support such efforts without undermining their work -- greens and evangelicals have a history of being suspicious of one another, as the Slate piece reminds us. They should all be aware, and supportive, of this potentially influential movement that could help turn the tide away from the entrenched climate ignorance that's wormed its way into conservative political ideology.
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