“I am an Evangelical, “so climate can’t be changing, “because God’s in control and not us. “And even if it is, “who cares? “The world’s gonna end anyways.” That’s what all Evangelicals think, right? When we poll people in the United States about whether they think climate is changing because of humans, and if we ask how worried they are about it, it’s true, there is one group that ends up at the bottom, and that is white Evangelicals. Only 28% of us say that humans are responsible, and curiously, only 45% of white Catholics also agree, compared to 77% of Hispanic Catholics. But don’t they have the same pope? It isn’t being Catholic or Evangelical that makes us doubt the science, it’s something else. What is an Evangelical anyways? There are as many definitions for us as there are books in the Bible, so I’m gonna go with one I got from a man name Lieth Anderson.
Leith is a pastor who’s also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals in the United States, so he knows his stuff, and this is what he says. “Evangelicals are people who take the Bible seriously.” Our first clue came from the poles, and now for our second clue we’re gonna go to the Bible. If Evangelicals take it seriously, what does it have to say about climate change and all that kind of stuff? The first book in the first chapter is Genesis one. It talks about how humans were made in the image of God. If you ever went to Sunday School you probably heard that one. But then it tells us why, so that we, humans, could be responsible for every living thing on the planet. Now some translations turn that into dominion over the earth. But even so, would we respect someone who had dominion over a company or a nation and ran it into the ground? Of course not. All of us respect wise stewardship when it comes to being in charge of something, and that’s what Genesis is talking about. We are stewards or caretakers of the people, animals, plants, and all living things on this planet. Moving forward through the Bible there’s a lot of verses that speak of God’s love and care for creation.
But there are also a few verses that people pick out and apply out of context to support their point. For example, there’s a verse that says there will always be seasons. So people say, “Well, how can global warming be real “if there always will be winter and summer?” Well, did you know that seasons are caused by the earth’s orbit around the sun? And humans aren’t effecting that yet, so of course there will always be winter and summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, they’ll just be warmer. Then there’s the verse about how God will never destroy the earth again with a flood. And so people use that to say sea level isn’t rising. First of all, it is. Thousands of gages around the world are pretty clear on that.
But second, even if all the ice sheets on earth melted there would still be dry land left, just not nearly as much. And because so many of us live near the coastlines it’s estimated that about 1/3 of us, that’s 2 1/2 billion people, live on land that would be under water if the ice sheets melted. But that doesn’t mean the earth will be entirely destroyed. So getting back to the main theme of the Bible, in the New Testament we learn for example of people who had quit their jobs and were waiting around, sitting on their hands, for the world to end and Christ to return. The Apostle Paul wrote to those people in the letter to the Thessalonians, and in no uncertain terms told them to work with their hands. In other words, to support their family. And elsewhere, to care for the widows and the orphans, too.
Whether we believe in the end of the world or not, we’re not supposed to be sitting around waiting for it, because most of all, throughout the entire Bible we find verses about love for others, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves. And that, as everyone from Pope Francis to Leith Anderson reminds us, is why we care about a changing climate. Because it disproportionally effects the poor and the vulnerable. Those who if food prices double can’t afford to feed their families. If sea level rises, have nowhere to go. If water runs out, become refugees far from home. It’s crystal clear, from both the social science and from the Bible, that our objections to the science of climate change have nothing to do with being religiously Evangelical.
They have everything to do with being politically Evangelical. As Galen Carey, a former missionary and now the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals says, “Many Evangelicals oppose actions to slow climate change “not on a religious basis, “but on a political one because they believe “the government wants to take away their freedom.” Bishop Efraim Tondero is the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, representing 600 million people around the world. He was also an official member of the Philippine delegation to the Paris Climate Conference. And when one Evangelical asked Bishop Ef why he cares about climate change, and then added, “Don’t you read the Scriptures?” He replied, “Yes, “I do read the Scriptures, “and that’s why I care.” (dinging) Thank you for watching Global Weirding. Be sure to go to globalweirdingseries.
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