Evangelical Leader Sees Connection Between Climate Change and Poverty
WASHINGTON -- An evangelical leader whose organization sponsored a prayer event on environmentalism believes that global poverty is strongly connected to man-made climate change.
Evangelical Environmental Network President Mitch Hescox, who worked in the energy business before becoming a pastor, told The Christian Post that combating man-made climate change is where his desire to evangelize and to care for the poor meet.
"God called me to it because I have a desperate passion for caring for evangelizing people and for caring for the poor," said Hescox. "How we care about creation care determines how we care about human life. Because the impacts of poverty, of disease, water shortages, is all related to how we steward the creation."
Hescox's remarks came during the Third Annual "Global Day of Prayer and Creation Care," which was a prayer breakfast held at the Hyatt Regency near Union Station.
Sponsored primarily by EEN, altogether 18 organizations cosponsored the event. These included the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, Care of Creation Inc., the National Association of Evangelicals, and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
The event featured a series of prayers given by several evangelical leaders, mixed in with scripture readings, and video packages by various environmental nonprofits. Peter Furler, former front man for the band Newsboys, performed contemporary Christian songs that included uniting those gathered in singing along.
Some of the people who led the audience in prayer included Nancy Sleeth, co-founder and Managing Director of Blessed Earth; Leith Anderson, president of the NAE; and Gabe Lyons, author of The Next Christians and founder of the Q Conference.
Despite the sense of growing belief among both the general public and Evangelical Christians regarding the existence of man-made climate change, evangelicals remain largely skeptical of the theory. According to a 2008 Barna Group study, only 27 percent of evangelicals surveyed said they "firmly believed" that global warming is happening.
The Cornwall Alliance, a group of evangelicals, crafted an "Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming" which calls for being good stewards of the environment while also casting skepticism on man-made climate change.
"As governments consider policies to fight alleged man-made global warming, evangelical leaders have a responsibility to be well informed, and then to speak out," reads the Declaration in part.
"We call on political leaders to adopt policies that protect human liberty, make energy more affordable, and free the poor to rise out of poverty, while abandoning fruitless, indeed harmful policies to control global temperature."
Regarding those Evangelicals that doubt mankind's contribution to climate change, Hescox told CP that "98 percent of the scientists" agree "that we do it."
"I think what they need to do is to listen to more than the sound bites, more than just one newspaper article, but to actually read the peer-reviewed scientific literature," said Hescox.
"But even more than that and actually before that, is listen to the cries of their brothers and sisters around the world."