In recent months, the news has carried a spate of stories about Christians embracing the cause of global warming. These news stories highlight some evangelical leaders who have endorsed alarmist claims in their public statements, urged political action on climate change, and even screened Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, in their churches. It’s no surprise that some politicians are welcoming converts to the cause on the eve of national elections, or that the news media is making much of a supposed split in the “religious right” that could weaken its political influence.
Tellingly, not nearly as much attention has been paid to more cautious statements by Evangelicals who reject the claims of climate alarmism. The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance’s A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor, for instance, provides a detailed biblical and scientific response to the much-heralded Evangelical Climate Initiative, but though it was endorsed by half again as many scholars, many with relevant expertise, it went largely unremarked by left-leaning pundits. It seems that Christians who embrace an extreme environmental platform make headlines, but those (for example, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Southern Baptist Convention) who support more reasoned, careful attempts at Biblical discernment rarely do. Given the disproportionate attention lavished on the former it would be easy to assume that Evangelicals are flocking to support measures like carbon taxes, energy rationing, and the Kyoto Protocol. This is simply not the case.
Much more than partisan politics is at stake in the discussion about global warming. When, on the basis of bad science, Christians begin to support measures that will suppress the world’s economies, not only are the church’s reputation and voice in the public square compromised but millions of the world’s poor stand to suffer the direct consequences. Little thought seems to be given by advocates of strict climate change policies to the fact that affordable energy, which allows our poorest global neighbors to benefit from the global economy, will be made unaffordable by mandatory caps on energy production.
American Christians have a responsibility to think carefully and act prudently when confronting politically hot topics like global warming. The science of climate change is far from settled, and there are many misrepresentations of fact in movies such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. With so much on the line Christians need to be armed with the very best information available; this fact sheet aims to help.
- A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor (summarized in the Open Letter to the Signers of the Evangelical Climate Initiative)
- An Examination of the Scientific, Ethical, and Theological Implications of Climate Change Policy
- “Greener than Thou,” a WORLD Magazine article on the global warming debate among Christians with quotes from ECI signatories
- Text of the National Association of Evangelicals Executive Committee response: “Recognizing the ongoing debate regarding the causes and origins of global warming, and understanding the lack of consensus among the evangelical community on this issue, the NAE Executive Committee, while affirming our love for the Creator and His creation, directs the NAE staff to stand by and not exceed in any fashion our approved and adopted statements concerning the environment contained within the Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.”
- TheSouthern Baptist Convention’s resolutions on Environmentalism and Evangelicals (2006) and on Global Warming (2007)
- The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship
Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net