Abstract

As climate change shapes up to be the defining environmental issue of the twenty-first century, an unlikely group—evangelical Christians that have broken rank with the faith's politically conservative leadership—perhaps represents one of the United States' greatest hopes for instituting meaningful legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Potentially commanding an audience of more than 100 million fellow believers, these liberal evangelical environmentalists advocate immediate legislative action which, for them, is inspired by a biblical foundation in principles of environmental stewardship and a commitment to caring for the world's poor who will bear the brunt of climate change's environmental impacts. But not only are they faced with the political inertia on climate change, they must contend with their conservative evangelical environmentalist counterparts who argue that, whether or not climate change is occurring, such legislation would harm the very people evangelicals intend to care for—the world's poor—by imposing what they believe to be unnecessary economic hardship. For a faith that has found political coherence and influence in the past quarter-century on personal moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage, the result is a potential wedge within evangelicalism surrounding rhetorical, theological, and ideological battles over biblically-founded responsibilities to the environment and to humankind. Ultimately, then, evangelicals may prove to be just as important for climate change—carrying the ability to mobilize millions of Americans on the issue—as climate change proves to be for evangelicals—catalyzing a re-examination of political and theological priorities.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 645-668
Launched on MUSE
2007-10-03
Open Access
No
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