Religious Groups Span Spectrum on Global Warming

June 20, 2007

As US politicians look for votes on climate change issues, they are testing the religious waters. But stereotyping a voter bloc is difficult, since groups have taken public positions across the board, from hostile skepticism that climate change is a significant issue to avid support for aggressive countermeasures. Even within a group, there can be schisms, sometimes as large as those between groups.

Evidence of those divisions was on display at a Senate Environment and Public Works hearing June 7, 2007: "An Examination of the Views of Religious Organizations Regarding Global Warming." Four witnesses generally supported strong action to thwart climate change, consistent with the introductory comments of Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA):

  • Katharine Jefferts Schori (Episcopal Church)
  • John Carr (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
  • Jim Ball (Evangelical Climate Initiative)
  • David Saperstein (Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism)

Three others were generally critical of the need to take any significant action, consistent with the introductory comments of James Inhofe (R-OK):

  • Russell Moore (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
  • Jim Tonkowich (Institute on Religion and Democracy)
  • David Barton (historian and activist)

In addition to the insights provided in their testimony (available through the Senate Web site), there are many more points of view. Interviews with people from a range of religious groups in your community will ferret out some of those. A few starting points for others (grouped by their general tendency to be either critical or supportive of the need for significant action to thwart climate change) include:

GENERALLY CRITICAL

GENERALLY SUPPORTIVE