Talking to Evangelicals About Climate Change

IN 2013, Sojourners commissioned a messaging study to contribute to the creation care movement—the Christian response to climate change. We polled nearly 1,100 people, oversampling for evangelical Christians, since evangelicals can be politically effective when activated on justice issues, as they have been on immigration, HIV/AIDS, and human trafficking.

Our goal was not only to learn evangelicals’ attitudes about climate change, but also to explore which messages are most compelling so we can better communicate on the issue and make an effective difference for God’s creation.

The first thing we learned was that many of the common stereotypes about evangelicals and climate change simply aren’t true. For one thing, the majority of evangelicals we surveyed (60 percent) agree that climate change is happening, and most say that human activity plays a role.

Second, one’s position on climate change is better predicted by political affiliation than by religion but, interestingly, evangelical Republicans are more likely to support action on climate change than non-evangelical Republicans. Young evangelicals are also more receptive to climate change messages than non-evangelical young people. And for those who don’t agree with us on climate change, there is a low level of certainty: Twenty-five percent of evangelicals are in the moveable middle, either “somewhat sure” that climate change isn’t happening or undecided. This means there’s a good chance that they already care, or that their opinion could be changed.

SO IF YOU have the opportunity to talk with someone about the greatest threat facing the health of God’s Earth and the people living on it, how do you have that conversation? To find out, we tested 10 different arguments in favor of taking action to reverse climate change.

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