New Poll Indicates Shift in Evangelical Attitudes Toward Climate Change

As I mentioned last week, I have been providing public relations and communications counsel to the Evangelical Climate Initiative, in its national release of Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.

The pronouncement has received significant attention in the media, most of which has pondered the variance in evangelical opinion on the issue of global warming, and weighed the influence of the 86 evangelical leaders who signed the Call to Action against traditional stalwarts who have not accepted scientific findings on climate change–such as James Dobson and Chuck Colson.

There are some indications that there is, indeed, changes in evangelical attitudes on climate.

Fortune magazine (Feb. 8, 2006): “With publications ranging from The Economist to Christianity Today urging action to curb global warming, there’s little doubt about which way the winds are blowing, in both the business and evangelical worlds.”

The Associated Press referred to the initiative as “a historic tipping point” (Los Angeles Times, Feb 10) in evangelical response to climate change.

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in the New York Times (Feb. 8): “There is no doubt about it in my mind that climate change is happening, and there is no doubt about it that it would be wise for us to stop doing the foolish things we’re doing that could potentially be causing this. In my mind there is no downside to being cautious.”

New Poll Results
And now details from a new poll of evangelical Christians seem to strengthen the call made the group of 86 evangelical leaders for action to reduce global warming.

In the poll, conducted by Ellison Research—-which frequently surveys church leaders—-70 percent of evangelicals said they believed global warming will pose a serious threat to future generations. Sixty-three percent of evangelicals believed that although global warming may be a long-term problem, since it is being caused today, the nation must start addressing it immediately.

In other findings from the Ellison Research poll, 95 percent of evangelical respondents agreed that “God gave us dominion over His creation, so we have a responsibility to care for it.”

–In the poll, 84 percent of evangelicals agreed that reducing pollution is a form of obedience to the biblical command to love your neighbor.

–92 percent agreed that “in the long run, it will be cheaper to protect the environment now than to fix it later.”

–95 percent agreed that “a healthy environment helps to keep your family healthy.”

–A majority of evangelicals—51 percent—said the U.S. should take steps to address global warming, even if there is a high economic cost.

–Two-thirds of evangelicals are either completely or mostly convinced that global warming is actually taking place.

The study was conducted in September 2005 by Ellison Research, a marketing research company located in Phoenix, Ariz. The study’s total sample is accurate to within ±3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level with a 50 percent response distribution. The study was designed independently by Ellison Research and funded by the Evangelical Environmental Network.

–Jim Jewell

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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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