Reality Check | ecoWURD | radio
Center for American Progress senior fellow Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons joined ecoWURD on Reality Check with Charles Ellison to discuss his recent examination of the stance of religious institutions and their followers on the topic of the climate crisis. Recent polling continues to show a large increase in the number of individuals who consider themselves religious, actually demanding more climate action and response from governments. This represents a pivotal moment since religious institutions, from the Catholic Church to white evangelicals to the Black church, have enormous sway over policy.
“Sometimes the loudest voices in the faith community on this problem of climate change are the dangerous ones,” said Graves-Fitzsimmons. “They, for example, use the Bible to tell us that God wants us to just use the land up, escape the planet and go to heaven. That kind of sermon actually resonates with an alarming number of people and people of faith run for office all the time.
“We need faith voices that are being left out of the climate discussion. Religious leaders can give us a moral foundation for caring for God’s creation. There is now broad support among rank-and-file congregants for climate change legislation and they’re forcing religious leaders to speak out. Look at how Pope Francis is speaking out on the issue.”
Graves-Fitzsimmons is the co-author of a report at the Center for American Progress on this very topic entitled “Religious Americans Demand Climate Action.” As the report notes: “The majority of religious Americans share Pope Francis’ and President Biden’s concern for taking urgent action on climate change. Sixty percent of Christians and 79% of Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims believe that ‘passing a bill to address climate change and its effects’ should be a top or an important priority for Congress, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in April 2021. The broad support for Congress to take action on the climate crisis includes 57% of evangelical Americans, who tend to be the most conservative of the United States’ religious blocs.” He also notes that Black religious leaders and congregants are much more likely to demand climate action than white evangelicals.
A 2019 Yale survey found that “… one of the top motivations among Christians in the U.S. for wanting to reduce global warming is to ‘protect God’s creation.’”