Here in the United States, white, Christian Evangelicals make up almost a quarter of the electorate. Concerned with moral issues such as abortion, gay marriage and school prayer the Evangelicals tend to align themselves with conservative politics and have of recent, overwhelmingly supported the Republican Party. In the 2004 election, 78% backed President Bush. As congressional elections near, Evangelicals are being urged to consider a "new" religious and moral issue, every bit as important as opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. The issue? Protecting the environment.At a press conference yesterday, representatives from the Christian Coalition and National Association of Evangelicals announced Call to Action, an effort to make global warming the number one election issue for Christians in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado and several other states.
Call to Action consists of a multi-pronged effort to get the word out to millions of Evangelicals, including sermons, radio ads, Bible study groups, house parties and a documentary film called "The Great Warming." Heavy on science, the film also lays out the biblical case for acting on global warming. Earlier this week we considered the question: Is God Green? Opening up with God's command to Adam to be a good steward of the Earth, "The Great Warming" seems to provide a resounding yes. Other moral arguments support the claim as well. For example, the natural disasters resulting from global warming will disproportionately affect the poor, a group Christians are charged with helping.
Dan Boone, president of Trevecca Nazarene University, an evangelical college in Nashville, reports that students have responded with enthusiasm towards the notion of including climate concerns in the conservative political agenda.
In the long run, Evangelicals leading the Call to Action hope, and expect, more Republicans to focus on global warming. But in the upcoming election, it's likely that Christians will vote for committed environmentalists, tipping the election in favor of the Democrats. Rev. Richard Cizik, the vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, a group that represents 30 million Christians says, "when evangelicals feel they have permission to vote on a wider range of issues, they're not going to be thinking that Republicans are God's party." The message to the Republican Party is clear — Evangelicals don't want their votes taken for granted.
Although many have joined in the Call to Action, it should be noted that the issue is contentious and many Evangelists neither agree or disagree while others denounce the effort all together.
Regardless of the election outcome, getting the environment on the Christian Evangelical agenda is a win for the Environment, and that's a win for us all.