Protestant Pastors Increasingly See Link Between Global Warming, Human Activity | Sojourners

Protestant Pastors Increasingly See Link Between Global Warming, Human Activity

Photo by Harrison Moore on Unsplash.

“Do you believe global warming is real and man-made?”

More than 50 percent of Protestant pastors said they do in a recent LifeWay Research survey on climate change. It’s the first time that a majority of Protestant pastors have agreed with the statement, according to LifeWay Research. In 2010, that number dropped as low as 36 percent.

While mainline pastors were more likely than in previous years to give a resounding yes (71 percent), evangelical pastors were less certain, with only 39 percent in agreement.


Image courtesy of LifeWay Research.

The survey comes at the heels of a major United Nations weather agency report released in March that found that 2010-2019 was the hottest decade recorded. Each decade has been warmer than the previous since the 1980s, the report noted. The study puts the global community “way off track to meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for,” U.N. chief António Guterres wrote in the report’s foreword.

The Paris Agreement, introduced in 2015 at COP 21, was a major step forward in climate action, calling upon all nations to take collective measures to curb rising temperatures and environmental destruction. In November, President Trump announced his intention to formally withdraw the United States from the agreement, entering a year-long exit process under the accord’s regulations.

While the U.S. has stepped back from the fight, the LifeWay survey reveals that Protestant pastors have not, with 54 percent reporting that their congregation “has taken tangible steps to reduce their carbon footprint.” Seventy percent of pastors who said they believe “global warming is real and man-made” have taken action to reduce their church’s carbon footprint.

Location, denomination, age, and race all emerged as factors behind beliefs on whether climate change is real and human-made, with African American pastors (78 percent) and pastors between 18 and 44 years of age (59 percent) significantly more likely to agree than their counterparts. The survey noted that pastors from Methodist (80 percent), Presbyterian/Reformed (67 percent) and Lutheran churches (63 percent) were also more likely to agree than those from Restorationist movement (43 percent), Baptist (37 percent), or Pentecostal churches (32 percent).

The survey comes one day before Earth Day, a global holiday first celebrated in 1970 to encourage environmental care.

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