Demographics are destiny, some say, and theres plenty of truth to
that. If you live in the South, youre more likely to be an
evangelical Christian than if you live in San Francisco. And if you
live in San Francisco, youre more likely to be an environmentalist
(or at least recycling your soda can) than if you live in San
More unusual are people who combine the two: Evangelical
environmentalists. Rare, but rising in influence, evangelical
environmentalists are equally well versed in ecology and theology.
They and other proponents of the creation care movement may be
harbingers of a cultural shift, albeit a slow one.
Numbering as many as 100 million, American Evangelicals have long
been a critical constituency within the US electorate. While once
the evangelical voter was almost guaranteed to vote Republican, a
new poll from Public Religion Research shows that evangelical voter
is now as likely to oppose cutting federal programs that help the
poor and approve raising taxes on those who make more than $1
million a year.
A recent Pew study found that 57 percent of Evangelicals feel
Government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means
going deeper into debt.
Rising sea levels and rising frustration with the GOPs failure to
protect the environment also mean that the evangelical vote is no
longer necessarily a sure thing for Republicans. According to Pew,
the majority of Evangelicals now believe that stricter environmental
laws and regulations are worth the cost.
Rev. Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network says more
than 50,000 pro-life Christians are supporting the Environmental
Protection Agencys efforts to overcome global warming. Support for
climate action has been quietly growing, despite our economic
troubles and the disavowal of climate change by prominent political
leaders, he writes.
Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical environmentalist who has
experienced her share of opposition. A Nobel Prize winning
atmospheric scientist who co-authored A Climate for Change with her
preacher husband Andrew Farley, Ms. Hayhoe found, to her dismay,
that Newt Gingrich cut her chapter on climate change from his book
without advance notice.
The controversy even spurred threats to her family, although
Hayhoe remains undeterred. Such incidents demonstrate the palpable
lack of political will toward environmental leadership that
evangelical environmentalists struggle to overcome.
Even after this summer's record temperatures on the East Coast
have cooled, drought in the Midwest is dissipating, and fires in
Colorado have been extinguished, the collective voice of evangelical
environmentalists is heating up. But can this voice speak loudly
enough to influence arguably the most conservative GOP platform in
Whether advocating for higher energy efficiency standards,
climate change mitigation, or anything in between, the green din of
2008 has dulled to a low hum as the 2012 election roars to its
conclusion. Public concern over climate change has declined, even as
new studies affirm the existence and severity of the problem. In
spite of campaigns delivering more than 160,000 signatures to PBSs
Jim Leher requesting that he ask about climate change when
moderating the first presidential debate this fall, Mr. Lehrer
failed to pose any question on the topic to candidates. …