Rose Marie Berger: ‘For God So Loved the World’ Christians & Climate Change

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Free digital edition (May)
http://digital.sojo.net/i/121090

Finally! The May issue of Sojo on Climate Change is available. I’ve been working on this for months! Thanks to everybody out there who are sitting in trees, and lobbying Congress, and saying prayers, and on and on. I guess what I do is write. So here’s an excerpt:

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States launched two ground wars and a worldwide “war on terror.” Within two months, Congress federalized the Transportation Security Administration to secure airports. More than 263 government organizations were either created or reorganized. Some 1,931 private companies were put to work on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Rightly or wrongly, America moved heaven and earth to stop terrorism in its tracks. It was seen as both an ongoing threat and a moral affront that had to be dealt with.

What about Climate Change?

In February, a New York State Senate task force on Superstorm Sandy compared the hurricane that affected 24 states to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “[On 9/11] there were more than 3,000 souls lost, but in terms of the geographic destruction, it was isolated to Lower Manhattan,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). “[After Sandy] we have miles and miles and miles of destruction. Hundreds of thousands of homes affected, 60 … New Yorkers killed, 250,000 to 260,000 businesses affected.”

Hurricane Sandy killed 253 people in seven countries. It was the second largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded—and the most expensive. It smashed into the East Coast with barely three days’ warning. Like hurricanes Katrina and Rita before it, Sandy was a disaster of biblical proportions.

After 9/11, Americans knew in our gut that something was seriously wrong. Our moral intuition had been sucker punched.

Climate change—and its deadly implications—has been harder to grasp. There’s a lot of complicated science involved. Instead of a single incident, we’re inundated with seemingly disconnected events. And, despite the evidence, we often fail to see it as a “crime.”

But global warming is a clear and present danger—with perpetrators, victims, and, most important, solutions.

Read more.

Outlook Good: The Shifting Sands of Young Evangelicals and Climate Change

PocketGuideThe data is in. Kids these days trust the news media as a source for information on global climate change only slightly more than they trust Sarah “I’m-not-one-who-would-attribute-it-to-being-man-made” Palin. So sayeth the researchers at American, Yale, and George Mason universities in a recent study.

Matthew Nisbet, an assistant professor in AU’s School of Communication, writes that “only 33% under the age of 35 trust the news media as a source of information about climate change, a proportion lower than any other age group. This proportion is also only slightly higher than the 27% of those under 35 who trust Sarah Palin on climate change.”

Social intuition has told us that “youth” are and should be more concerned about climate change than older adults. After all, the younger you are the more future you have to lose, right? Well, no. It turns out that the under-35ers are less likely than older adults to believe that global warming is already harming people in the United States and elsewhere in the world and are instead more likely to believe that harm will begin 10, 25, or even 50 years in the future. Just 21% of 18-34 year-olds believe that people around the world are currently experiencing harm due to global warming, relative to 33% of those 35-59 and 29% of those 60 and older.

But here’s a really interesting part of this study–when you add religion into the mix. There was no measurable difference across age when it comes to trusting religious leaders on climate change–except among evangelical Christians. While self-identified evangelicals, who make up roughly 30% of the U.S. population, are more likely to trust religious leaders on global warming than Americans who don’t identify as evangelical, this is especially true of young adults.

Eighty-one percent of the under-35 evangelicals trust religious leaders as an information source on global warming, compared to just 36% of non-evangelical young adults.

In contrast, 51% of evangelicals 60 and older trust religious leaders compared to 41% of non-evangelicals. Notably, 66%  of evangelicals trust scientists. And a full 77% of young evangelicals  says that they trust scientists as an information source on global warming. President Obama is also a trusted source among a majority (52%) of young evangelicals.

This data highlights the critical role religious leaders play in education around global climate change. It is important that the pulpit be a place that provides accurate and trustworthy information on environmental issues within the context of our Christian narrative and moral tradition.

So, pastors out there, here’s your 3-point sermon:

Earthkeeping. Fruitfulness. Sabbath.

“Serve and Preserve.” “Foster Creativity.” “Regularly Choose Being, Not Doing.”

Genesis 2:15. Ezekiel 34:18. Leviticus 25 and 26.

Find more climate change and creation-care sermons at Creation Care for Pastors. And get your solid climate science in easy spoonfuls at RealClimate. Your youth (and your old ones) are listening.

Does Wearing a Cross Make You a Torture-Supporter?

witness-against-tortureorigOver at Brian McLaren’s blog he’s been responding to the the recent Pew Forum study, reported by CNN.com, that correlates “White evangelical Protestants with those most likely to say that torture is often or sometimes justified.”

More than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Additionally, evangelical pastor Gabe Salguero wrote a great piece in The Washington Post also responding to the data:

Torture is morally reprehensible. Christians, who serve a Christ who was tortured and murdered by a brutal Empire should know this to be true. Torture is not just an affront to the human dignity of the person being tortured but also on the one’s who are dong the torturing. Any society that sanctions torture has lost its moral compass and threatens the ethical integrity of all its people.

What about the Catholics?

The Pew research also shows that 19 percent of non-Hispanic Catholics think that torture “can often be justified.” This is the highest percentage of the religious breakdowns in this category. Nearly half of the Catholic interviewed said that torture “can often be” or “can sometimes be” justified.

But, on the same day that the report was released, 62 members of Witness Against Torture, started by a group of Catholics, were arrested at the gates of the White House demanding that the Obama administration support a criminal inquiry into torture under the Bush administration and the release of innocent detainees still held at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp.

Each of those arrested wore the name of a Guantanamo inmate who had been cleared for release or who had died in prison.

“We sent a powerful message to the Obama administration and beyond,” said Witness Against Torture’s Matthew Daloisio, “that the rule of law can be restored only if the law is enforced. President Obama cannot deny indefinitely the mounting evidence of torture under Bush, and must move to hold those who committed, ordered, and justified torture to account.”

This civil disobedience was the culmination of a 100 Days Campaign to shut down Guantanamo.

Send these folks a note of thanks for representing true Christianity at the White House yesterday.