WASHINGTON – Evangelical Christians are more skeptical than other Christians and American adults overall about the severity of global warming, a new study showed.
Only 33 percent of evangelical Christians view global warming as a "major" problem facing the country compared to people of other faiths or of no religion in which over half say it's severe, according to The Barna Group.
Among non-evangelical born-again Christians, 55 percent say global warming is a major problem and 59 percent of notional Christians agree. Overall, 51 percent of the nation's Christian community view global warming as severe while 42 percent assign the largely debated issue less importance.
Meanwhile, 62 percent of those associated with a faith other than Christianity and 69 percent of atheists and agnostics describe global warming as a major problem.
Catholics (59 percent) showed more concern about global warming than Protestants (52 percent). And mainline Protestants (59 percent) also expressed greater alarm than did non-mainline Protestants (49 percent).
"The survey confirms that Americans disagree about climate change," said David Kinnaman, who directed the study. "Each faith audience interacts with the concept of global warming in distinct ways. Evangelicals would rather think about other things. Non-evangelicals say the environment is important to them, yet they are far from convinced that global warming is as important as everyone says. By contrast, many non-Christians view global climate alterations as the central element of their environmental engagement."
Other findings showed that non-evangelical born-again Christians are the most likely to say it is "absolutely necessary" to invest in environmental protection compared to 61 percent of notional Christians and atheists/agnostics, 55 percent of people of other non-Christian faiths, and only 35 percent of evangelical Christians. At the same time, well over half of all groups surveyed were likely to have recycled a product in the last month with people of a faith other than Christianity (90 percent) being the most likely to have recycled.
"Most Americans say they recycle, prioritize the environment and perceive global warming to have implications for the nation. It seems as if people are searching for over-arching and compelling themes for environmental care. As Americans become aware of environmental problems and the affects on people inside and outside the U.S., it is important for Christians to embrace and articulate the biblical priority of caring for the world God created," said Kinnaman.
"Part of that priority should be to become the best possible stewards of God's resources by being the best recyclers. Such conservation is stewardship because it means learning to be more responsible with what we have and what we consume, leaving more time and money for God's purposes. Furthermore, the environment is a potential area of common ground between Christians and non-Christians. Like it or not, if outsiders do not see Christians embodying biblical care related to creation, a Christian's influence is significantly diminished."
Results from the Barna poll are based on nationwide surveys conducted on 1,007 adults in January 2007 and 1,004 adults in July-August 2007.