Why are so many evangelicals deniers of climate change?
The question in the headline above is especially difficult for a non-religious person like me, but it’s worth tackling by all of us, no matter our religious beliefs or lack of them.
Religion and science are a tricky mix in any circumstance. When you add politics to the equation…well, lots of luck.
Lauren Markoe, a reporter for Religion News Service, recently wrote that 81 percent of evangelical Christian voters in America cast their ballots last fall for Donald Trump, a climate change skeptic. And there are studies indicating that evangelicals are more likely than other Americans to doubt climate change, but I don’t know the extent to which climate issues attracted religious folks to Trump’s political cause.
It seems to me, however, that environmentalists would do well to tailor their important message about climate matters to appeal to the consciences of evangelicals. Granted, it’s a tough sell. Lots of religious people are fundamentally wary of science, as we see in the widespread rejection of Darwinian theories of evolution.
But Markoe suggests that it’s not a lost cause. She quotes Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and a faithful Christian: “For long-term sustained action [against climate change], we need hope. We need love. We need encouragement. We need that sense of shared community of being in this together. And for many people … faith communities often provide exactly that.”
Hayhoe says it’s a matter of “connecting our heads to our hearts.”
Personally, I’m of the belief that the worse climate change becomes, the more readily religionists will come to their senses and join the fight to counter its effects. But the problem of too-little-too-late looms menacingly.
In that sense, environmentalism is a pro-life issue.
The sooner that evangelicals recognize that connection, the better.