Faith

FAITH

For many people the world over, climate change presents an existential crisis. Some fall back on faith to ground them in the face of climate change’s magnitude, even to guide them through it. For others, faith precludes an acceptance of climate change’s harsh realities. The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology has an incredible archive of articles on religion and climate change from 2009 to the present.

IS THERE A CONNECTION IN THIS COUNTRY BETWEEN RELIGION AND POLITICS?

In recent years, a prominent narrative has positioned religiosity as antithetical to environmentalism and climate denialism has flourished in right-wing, white Christian communities. It has been effective -- according to a report in 2022, only 32% of white evangelical Protestants agree that the US is warming due to human activity compared with 66% of religiously unaffiliated adults. Politically prominent and powerful Christian interest groups, such as Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, have launched campaigns denouncing environmental movements. Despite the rhetoric from these groups, some researchers have argued that, it is the confluence of these religious movements with conservative American politics, which has determined their stance on climate change. In other words, for these folks, their political identity has affected their religious convictions as a driver of their environmental convictions. Indeed, there is support in some surveys for that opinion: for example, early in 2023, another Pew poll surveyed Catholics only to discover that 82% of Catholic Democrats take climate change extremely seriously whereas only 25% of Republican Catholics feel the same way. Another, in 2022, explored the conflict Christians feel as they try to sort out their sense of responsibility for the Earth with their skepticism about climate change.

WHAT HAVE THE POPES SAID ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?

Many people of Christian faiths have pushed back on the toxic narrative of denialism. Certainly recent popes have. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke strongly urging international climate action. In 2020, Pope Francis, gave a TED talk  on the moral imperative to act on climate change. Support for his call to action has been lukewarm at best. As the leader of 1.4 billion Catholics globally with one in four people in the U.S. identifying as Catholic, Pope Francis has recently pondered why getting people to care is so harder that he thought.

HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE RELATE TO CHRISTIANITY

In this country, perhaps our most profound spokesperson to successfully marry faith with a deep understanding of climate change is Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. She is an evangelical Christian and leading climate scientist who has garnered substantial attention for her ability to bridge the political divide, clearly explaining the way that her faith has driven her work. Climate change, she argues, is a blatantly Christian cause because of the ways it will disproportionately affect the poor and cause the extinction of so many of God’s creatures.

HOW DOES FAITH ALIGN WITH ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP?

Aligning faith with environmental stewardship is key for many in driving environmental action. The International Islamic Climate Change Symposium drafted an Islamic Declaration on Climate Change in 2015. The declaration makes clear the threat climate change poses to one of Islam’s pillars: the Hajj. A group of Jewish leaders published a Rabbinic Statement on the Climate Crisis in January 2020. In fact, statements on climate change have been released from a multitude of international and interfaith communities, including Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. In early 2021, The Mind and Life Institute moderated a fascinating conversation between the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and leading scientists.

WHAT RELATIONSHIP DO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE HAVE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE?

For many indigenous communities, faith is a thread which runs through a resilient history and a pathway toward a sustainable future. The legacy of colonialism is vivid both in modern dynamics of faith and within the dynamics of the climate crisis. The struggle of Native communities to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline, is just one explicit example of this intersection. The rallying cry ‘Defend the Sacred’ was prominent in resistance to the pipeline and summarized a key legal argument that the pipeline violated the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s right to religious freedom. The integrity of Lake Oahe and surrounding areas, a site sacred to the tribes, would have been gravely threatened by the pipeline. Respect of indigenous spirituality and epistemologies, long subjected to colonialist erasure, is a key to combatting climate change and pursuing climate justice.   As of May 3, 2021, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would keep the pipeline operational while preparing a court-ordered environmental impact study. It has, as of 6/1/2023, not yet been released. In the meantime, Harvard U reports that the pipeline still lacks a key permit from the Corps to cross under Lake Oahe in south Dakota.

The idea that religion and climate science are inherently opposing forces is myopic and harmful. On the contrary, faith is unquestionably sustaining and sustainable.

This section explores all the ways in which faith intersects with global warming.

The Pew Research Center is a valuable place to visit to follow the changing positions Americans take when it comes to climate change. A recent 2022 survey concluded that 8% of Americans are both highly religious and very concerned about climate change.

Don Cheadle Talks with Katharine Hayhoe: Faith & Climate Change

CURRENT NEWS

Why Americans of faith need to care about reducing harm to the environment abroad

By Bridget Moix 06/06/24
Spring and summer are gardening time for many of us in the United States. I love this annual ritual of planting tiny seeds in the ground and watching what emerges. It reminds me that miracles…
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To Be Good Stewards of God’s Creation

By Rev. Susan Hendershot 06/05/24
Our religious and spiritual traditions call us to be stewards of our Sacred Earth, God’s Creation, and to care for our neighbors and those who are suffering. This means working to protect the environment and…
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There’s a link between climate crisis and Christian nationalism, McLaren says

By Jeff Brumley 05/21/24
Americans must connect the dots between the earth’s climate crisis and the resurgence of Christian nationalism and white supremacy, according to activist and theologian Brian McLaren. But they must do so without falling into defeatism…
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Governor says faith leaders have ‘powerful’ role in climate action

By Justin McLellan 05/15/24
Faith leaders must collaborate with public and private partners to set an example on combating climate change for the communities they serve, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said while standing in the Vatican Gardens.
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Investor Nuns’ Shareholder Resolutions Aim to Stop Wall Street Financing of Fossil Fuel Development on Indigenous Lands

By Keerti Gopal 05/06/24
Sister Susan Francois didn’t expect to get emotional discussing her congregation’s shareholder resolution at Citibank last week, but as she spoke to a room full of supporters about the role of the Catholic Church in…
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Pope Francis uses first ever US TV interview to slam climate change deniers as ‘fools’ and insists ‘climate change exists’

By Stephen M. Lepore 04/25/24
Pope Francis spoke out against climate change deniers, calling them 'fools' in his first ever interview on American television.
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A world of plastic: A Chicago pastor’s Earth Day message

By Joseph Chamblain 04/18/24
About 20 years ago, Bob Greene, then a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote a little book called Once Upon a Town. It was about a canteen that the citizens of North Platte, Nebraska, operated…
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Union for Reform Judaism pledges to divest millions from fossil fuel industry

By Asaf Elia-Shalev 04/11/24
The organization representing the largest American Jewish denomination is pledging to divest from the fossil fuel industry as a response to the climate crisis.
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Beyond Greening: Jewish Responses to Climate Emergency

By Lawrence Macdonald 04/01/24
For many American Jews, it’s hard to make space for thinking about climate change in the wake of October 7 and amid the war in Israel and Gaza. Already before Hamas’s October 7 attack, American…
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In a first, Oregon’s Jewish federations pull investments from fossil fuels

By Asaf Elia-Shalev 03/29/24
Oregon’s two Jewish communal federations have decided to divest their endowment funds from the fossil fuel industry due to concerns about the ongoing impact of the climate crisis.
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Catholic, Christian groups share faith-driven plan for ‘climate adaptation’ with Congress

03/22/24
Catholic and Christian groups joined together March 20 to discuss a faith-driven approach to solving problems associated with climate change in a panel discussion on Capitol Hill.
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Arizona bishop thanks Pope Francis for calling out US impacts on climate change

By Brian Roewe 03/20/24
The Catholic bishop of Tucson, Arizona, thanked Pope Francis for calling out "irresponsible" lifestyles in the United States that have contributed to climate change. Bishop Edward Weisenburger made the comments March 18 during an event…
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KEY RESOURCES

WHAT IS CCOP?

04/22/24
You will share in the credentials of our Christian NGO observer organizations, officially recognized by the UNFCCC. This means that you will be granted access to the COP29 conference grounds, able to attend those meetings,…

Address of the Holy Father to the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

12/02/23
We publish below the Holy Father’s speech prepared on the occasion of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which takes place from 30 November to 12…

The Evangelical Environmental Network

09/07/23
The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a ministry that educates, inspires, and mobilizes Christians in their effort to care for God's creation.

Let’s talk faith & climate

05/26/21
Communication Guidance For Faith Leaders

Books and Articles

04/01/21
Yale forum on religion and Ecology  

Communications Engagement

03/31/21
Our Moving Forward: A Guide to Climate Action For Your Congregation and Community provides you with information and resources to reduce energy use, to build  

Our Mission

03/31/21
Because the Earth and all people are sacred and at risk, GreenFaith is building a worldwide, multi-faith climate and environmental movement. Together our members create communities to transform ourselves, our spiritual institutions, and society to…

Mission & History

03/30/21
Vision Interfaith Power & Light envisions a stable climate where humans live in right and just relationship, interconnected with a healthy, thriving, natural world. Mission Interfaith Power & Light inspires and mobilizes people of faith…

Indigenous Environmental Network

03/30/21
www.ienearth.org Indigenous Environmental Network      

Why faith and environment matters

03/30/21
Spiritual values drive individual behaviours for more than 80 per cent of people. In many countries, spiritual beliefs and religions define cultural values, social inclusion, political engagement and economic prosperity. In 2008, the United Nations…

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Religion and Foreign Policy: The Fourth National Climate Assessment

03/30/21
The U.S. Global Change Research Program issued its National Climate Assessment in November. Three-hundred author scientists from thirteen agencies produced a 1000+ page report without censorship. Climate changes across the United States will result in…

Climate Caretakers

05/12/20
Climate Caretakers commit to care for the climate through regular prayer and action that glorifies God and loves our neighbors.

Interfaith Power and Light – Congregational Solar Directory

05/12/20
The number of congregations with solar has more than doubled since the last survey in 2016 for a total of 770! Their combined efforts equal 45 megawatts of installed solar...

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

02/14/20
We are young evangelicals in the United States who are coming together and taking action to overcome the climate crisis as part of our Christian discipleship and witness.

20.’25: The Global Evangelical Clean Energy Initiative

01/31/20
In the pursuit of its objectives, WEA Creation Care Task Force, the WEA Business Coalition, and the WEA Sustainability Center have partnered to work with Smart Roofs Solar to support WEA’s Project 20.’25 to assist…

World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center

01/31/20
The WEA Sustainability Center connects 600 million evangelical Christians around the globe with global efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Sustainable Development Goals); provides impetus for broader engagement of evangelical church communities…

A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions (2015)

02/14/20
Drawing on the two authors' experiences, one as an internationally recognized climate scientist and the other as an evangelical leader of a growing church, this book explains the science underlying global warming, the impact that…

MORE NEWS

Can faith leaders shift public opinion toward climate action?

By Brian H. Smith   04/26/21  
More than eight in 10 people on the planet (84%) identify with a religious tradition — including 2.3 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims, 1.1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, and 14 million Jews. Just these…
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Pope Francis, in Earth Day messages, warns ‘we are at the edge’ on climate change

By Brian Roewe   04/22/21  
In twin Earth Day messages, Pope Francis warned a gathering of world leaders and the global community at large that "we are at the edge" with climate change, and the time to take action is…
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Meet the Jewish Activist Digging Through the Trash for Climate Justice

By Orge Castellano   04/22/21  
A few years ago, Anna Sacks was an utterly different person. Her existence revolved around the monotonous slender buildings, high-rise cubicles, and exceedingly demanding domains of Manhattan’s corporate world. Soon, the young New Yorker’s workday…
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Jewish activists take climate change fight to halls of power

By Maya Mirsky   04/21/21  
What can one person do about climate change? For Grace Wallis, the answer is simple: a lot, but not enough. “Individual actions don’t create direct change, immediate change, in the areas that are most effective…
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‘Within minutes I was weeping’: the US pastor using scripture to mobilize climate action

By Melissa Godin   04/20/21  
The Rev Scott Hardin-Nieri regularly revisits the story of Noah’s ark. “People look at that story fondly, because they focus on all the animals that were saved,” the pastor says. But for Hardin-Nieri, Noah’s ark…
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Green Shoots of Hope, Part Two – Youth Climate Leaders in the Americas

By Brian Roewe   04/13/21  
One of the Earth’s most precious resources are youth leaders from many countries who are mobilizing to vocally share their demands regarding climate change. This diverse group includes Indigenous climate activists, who are rallying and protesting…
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People of faith are allies to stall climate change

By Tobias Muller   04/08/21  
I am used to sceptical looks when I talk to scientists about my work with religious communities. They have reason to see science as under threat from zealots: examples abound, from the treatment of Galileo…
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Catholic seminary installs a solar farm shaped like a cross

By Sarah Kennedy   04/02/21  
From their plane windows, people traveling to and from Chicago may notice the shape of a cross in a field outside the city. This cross is made entirely of rows of solar panels that help…
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He’s a Famous Evangelical Preacher, but His Kids Wish He’d Pipe Down

By Nicholas Kristof   03/27/21  
The Rev. Rick Joyner is a famous evangelical leader who has called on Christians to arm themselves for an inevitable civil war against liberals, who he suggests are allies of the devil. But this is…
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For These Young Evangelical Activists, Facing the Climate Crisis Is an Act of Faith

By Alex Morris   03/21/21  
A few years back, William Morris came to realize just how he could be a light unto the world. Before this precise moment in time, his visions of a missionary life had involved foreign climes,…
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People of Faith Worldwide Rise Up for Climate Justice

By Jessica Corbett   03/12/21  
"We envision a world transformed, in which humanity in all its diversity has developed a shared reverence for life on Earth." So declares a new joint statement—entitled "Sacred People, Sacred Earth"—supported by religious groups and leaders…
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Hard-hitting video explains the origins of climate change ‘polarization’

By Bud Ward   03/12/21  
A story “about today. That started yesterday. And impacts tomorrow.” That’s how the University of Virginia’s Religion, Race & Democracy Lab introduces its new “God $ Green: An Unholy Alliance” 19-minute publicly available “eye-popping” video.…
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How a Young Activist Is Helping Pope Francis Battle Climate Change

By David Owen   02/01/21  
Molly Burhans wants the Catholic Church to put its assets—which include farms, forests, oil wells, and millions of acres of land—to better use. But, first, she has to map them.
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Pope’s adviser says Covid has highlighted ‘existential’ climate risk

By Karen McVeigh   01/15/21  
The pope’s newly appointed scientific adviser said the coronavirus pandemic has forced world leaders to face up to the “existential risk” of the climate crisis.
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The Dalai Lama In Conversation with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists

01/09/21  
The president of the Latin-American Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CELAM) said Europeans need to leave behind a “poetic” understanding of climate change to begin combating it effectively.
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How Taiwan uses Buddhist literature for environmental education

By Natasha Heller   12/01/20  
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that the world faces. A United Nations report has cautioned that greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity are at a record high, “with no signs of slowing…
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Through their faith, these CCLers commit to care for creation

By Flannery Winchester   11/24/20  
Recently, two CCL volunteers wrote an essay for their church titled “Our Faith Commitment to Care for Creation.” Corey Becker is a parishioner and student, and Bill Stigliani is a parishioner and professor emeritus of…
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Our Moral Imperative To Act On Climate Change – And 3 Steps We Can Take

His Holiness Pope Francis   10/10/20  
Delivering a visionary TED Talk from Vatican City, the spiritual leader proposes three courses of action to address the world's growing environmental problems and economic inequalities, illustrating how all of us can work together, across…
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Five Years After Speaking Out on Climate Change, Pope Francis Sounds an Urgent Alarm

By James Bruggers   08/07/20  
When Pope Francis issued his landmark teaching document on climate change in 2015, his words went straight to the heart of Susan Varlamoff.
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Young climate activists and the language of God in ‘A Children’s Bible’

By Amy Brady   06/20/20  
Author and conservationist Lydia Millet captures the spirit of those young activists in her latest novel, A Children’s Bible, a slim but poignant (and often darkly funny) account of a group of kids and their…
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Vatican urges Catholics to drop investments in fossil fuels, arms

By Philip Pullella   06/18/20  
The Vatican urged Catholics on Thursday to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment.
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For many young evangelicals in Iowa, climate is front and centre

By Teresa Krug   02/01/20  
As Iowa kicks off 2020 US presidential primary and caucus season, young evangelicals are demanding climate action.
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For evangelicals, climate change causes a split between young and old that could hurt Republicans

By Laura Krantz   12/28/19  
Cornfields flank the highway that forms the main road here and grain elevators tower overhead, constant reminders of how farming permeates this rural community in the state’s northwest corner.
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Powered By Faith, Religious Groups Emerge As A Conduit For A Just Solar Boom

By Avery Ellfeldt   12/15/19  
Minnesota winters are long, brutal and gray. Minneapolis resident Keith Dent has endured 38 of them. But over the last several years, he's experienced what he calls a "reintroduction to the sun."
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Solar Light of the World: Evangelicals Launch Global Clean Energy Campaign

By Griffin Paul Jackson   12/11/19  
The initiative aims to convert 1 in 5 WEA churches and institutions to renewable power by 2025.
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Latin American Church Calls for ‘Incisive’ Action Against Climate Change

By Thomas D. WIlliams, Ph.D.   12/09/19  
The president of the Latin-American Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CELAM) said Europeans need to leave behind a “poetic” understanding of climate change to begin combating it effectively.
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How green theology is energizing the black community to fight the climate crisis

By Nicollette Higgs   11/22/19  
Black churches across the country are embracing sustainability through Green The Church, an initiative that empowers congregations to use sustainable food and energy practices to fight the climate crisis and strengthen their communities.
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Opinion: Mayor Pete isn’t the first to link religion and the environment

By Asher Price   11/14/19  
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Democratic presidential hopeful, calls contributing to climate change “a kind of sin.”
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Why There’s A Divide Between Environmentalists And Evangelicals

by Gregory Warner   11/04/19  
Among the voices calling for action on climate change are some young evangelicals, despite the fact that church elders have portrayed environmentalism as anti-Christian.
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I’m a Climate Scientist Who Believes in God. Hear Me Out.

By Katharine Hayhoe   10/31/19  
Global warming will strike hardest against the very people we’re told to love: the poor and vulnerable.
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Montana faith groups take action on climate change

By Gail Schontzler   10/30/19  
To help fight climate change, a growing number of Montana churches are looking to the heavens. St. James Episcopal Church and Resurrection Parish are the first churches in Bozeman to install solar panels to draw…
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Why Many Evangelicals Believe Climate Change Is A Hoax

By Jillian Cheney   09/27/19  
Millions around the world walked out of their workplaces and classrooms recently to join the global climate strike. The movement, which has gained much support in the past few weeks, was meant to encourage political…
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Commentary: To save the planet, we need faith, ethics, science and economics

By Thomas Reese Religion News Service   09/25/19  
As the world approaches a tipping point in the climate change crisis, many people finally appear to be waking up to the need for radical change, although the Trump administration is still pushing in the…
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‘The dominant theological issue’: Environmentalist Bill McKibben wants your pastor at the global climate strike

By Whitney Bauck   09/19/19  
In the United States, where a climate change denier made his way to the White House partly on the strength of his appeal to white evangelical voters, many see Christianity and climate science as opposing…
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The Green New Deal isn’t socialist, it’s “biblical,” argue evangelical environmentalists

By Olivia Goldhill   09/18/19  
When evangelical environmentalists talk about climate change, they don’t stick to sea level rise projections and the carbon emissions associated with red meat. Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, national organizer and spokesperson at Young Evangelicals for Climate Action…
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‘Plant A Vision Of Hope’: How This Alabama Pastor Addresses Climate Change From The Pulpit

By Tonya Mosley   09/17/19  
Rev. Michael Malcom is not a bystander. When it comes to climate change, Malcom — pastor of Rush Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant church, and executive director of the People's Justice…
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Understanding Christians’ climate views can lead to better conversations about the environment

By Emma Frances Bloomfield   08/05/19  
In their second round of debates, Democratic presidential candidates called for aggressive measures to slow climate change. As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has said, “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and…
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Wait, 40 percent of white evangelicals support the Green New Deal?

By Kate Yoder   07/29/19  
In the 2016 presidential election, 81 percent of white evangelical Christians voted to elect President Trump. But this core base of the Republican Party, despite Fox News’ efforts, is more receptive to large-scale action to…
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NGOs, faith groups, foundations and activists are convening to take action on global climate breakdown

By Monica Tyler-Davies   07/16/19  
As climate strikes roar around the globe, the fossil fuel industry’s social license to pollute our planet is looking increasingly likely to expire. This industry’s continued growth is only possible if someone pays for it,…
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The Green New Deal Picks Up Major Christian Endorsements

By Alexander C. Kaufman   07/15/19  
What climate policy would Jesus choose? One that protects nature and lifts up the poor, these Christians say. ...
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One of America’s top climate scientists is an evangelical Christian. She’s on a mission to persuade skeptics.

By Dan Zak   07/15/19  
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth, and the Earth was shapeless and barren, so God added light and water and land and sky and plants and animals and humans. If you…
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God and the earth: Evangelical take on climate change

By Shay Meinecke   07/03/19  
Conservative Christians have long opposed climate science, saying human induced warming goes against God’s omnipotence. Opinions divide on whether that thinking might slowly be changing.
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Faith, farmers, and climate action

By Brian J. Barth   07/02/19  
Could America’s farmers—a demographic seen as religious and conservative—be a secret weapon in the climate fight?...
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This Faith Leader Sees Climate Change as a Moral Emergency

By Cara Giaimo   04/06/19  
Last winter, a few dozen scientists and faith leaders walked into the Archdiocese of Boston headquarters in Braintree, Massachusetts, to talk climate change. The meeting took some time to find its footing—after all, these two…
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Stopping Climate Change Is a Part of Following Jesus

By Kyle Myaard-Schaap   01/15/19  
As countries from around the world converged on Bonn, Germany, recently to discuss the global response to climate change, evangelical Christians were among them. Representing congregations, college campuses and denominations from across the U.S., we…
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What would Jesus do? Talking with evangelicals about climate change

by Megan Mayhew Bergman   12/19/18  
In our new column about the American south and climate change, we go towards Christians who have been resistant to ideas of environmental stewardship - perhaps it’s a message they need to hear in their…
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Citizens’ Climate Radio, Ep. 30: What does the Bible say about climate change?

Hosted by Peterson Toscano   11/19/18  
In this episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio, three American Evangelicals consider faith, theology, and global warming. Kyle Meyaard Schaap and Corina Newsome from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), along with Rev. Josh Gibson, pastor…
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Millennial Evangelicals Want to Shift How Christians Think About Climate Change

By Rachel Delia Benaim   02/23/18  
Kyle Meyaard-Schaap was raised in an evangelical Christian community in which climate change was “often the butt of a joke.” The 28 year-old explained that in the community of his youth “climate change isn't something…
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Why evangelicals back Trump on global warming

By David Gibson   06/09/17  
President Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark Paris agreement sparked a global outcry and provided yet another flashpoint to illuminate the nation’s stark political divide on climate change: The U.S. right largely rallied…
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Three Boston Congregations Team Up for Community Solar Project

By Rev. Mariama White-Hammond   05/09/17  
Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, a Class of 2009 Barr Fellow, shares three lessons and a new video documenting a novel collaboration of three churches committed to action on climate change and equity.
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