Religious Americans less concerned about climate change

NEW YORK (AP) – Most adults in the United States – including a large majority of Christians and people who identify with other religions – consider the Earth sacred and believe that God gave it a duty to care for people.

But highly religious Americans – those who pray daily, attend religious services regularly and consider religion to be important in their lives – are far less likely than other US adults to worry about global warming.

Those are among the main findings in a comprehensive report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, which surveyed 10,156 US adults from April 11 to April 17. The margin of error for the entire sample of respondents is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.

The survey says religious Americans tend to be less concerned about climate change for a variety of reasons.

“It’s politics first: Political party, not religion, is the main driver of public opinion in the United States about climate,” the report says.

“Very religious Americans are more likely than others to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and Republicans are less likely than Democrats to believe that human activity (such as burning fossil fuels ) warming the Earth or considering climate change a serious problem.”

Responding to the results, Rev. Richenda Fairhurst, climate warden at the non-profit Faith Future Circle, that America’s siled culture further divides instead of encouraging teamwork.

“I do not know who serves,” she said. “But it’s not serving the community – and it’s certainly not serving the planet.”

The poll found that about three-quarters (74%) of religiously affiliated Americans say the Earth is holy. A larger share, (80%) feel that they have a stewardship — and they completely or mostly agree with the idea that “God has given people a duty to protect and care for the Earth, including the plants and the animals.”

Religious Americans who show little or no concern about climate change also say “there are much bigger problems in the world, that God is in control of the climate, and they don’t believe the climate is really changing.”

Many religious Americans are also concerned about the possible consequences of environmental regulations, including the loss of individual freedoms, fewer jobs or increased energy prices, the report says.

The survey also found that two-thirds of religiously affiliated US adults say their religious scriptures contain lessons about the environment, and about four in ten say they have prayed for the environment in the past year.

The views, the report says, are common across a range of religious traditions.

Three-quarters of evangelical Protestants and members of historically Black Protestant churches say the Bible contains lessons about the environment. Eight in ten US Catholics and mainline Protestants say the Earth is holy and so do 77% of non-Christian religions, according to the poll.

But Christians, and more broadly, religiously affiliated Americans, are divided in their views on climate change, the report says.

Among those who consider climate change to be a “very or very serious problem,” 68% of adults who identify with the historically Black Protestant tradition range from 34% of evangelical Protestants.

In none of the major Protestant traditions has a majority said that the Earth is getting warmer primarily because of human activity; only 32% of evangelicals felt that way.

The report says the religiously unaffiliated — the fastest growing group in surveys asking Americans about their religious identity — are more likely to say climate change is a big or very serious problem ( 70%) than religiously affiliated Americans (52%). .

Commonly called the “nones”, they describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” The report says they are significantly more likely to say the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human-induced activity (66%) than those who are religiously affiliated (47%).

The survey offers clues as to why religious Americans are less likely to be concerned about climate change than those of no religion despite seeing a connection between their faith and caring for the environment:

• Climate change does not seem to be a major focus for US communities. The report says that among all US adults who attend religious services at least once or twice a month, only 8% say they hear a lot or a lot about climate change in sermons.

• One in five say they hear some discussion of the subject from the pulpit.

• And only 6% of Americans say they talk about climate change with others in their community a lot or a lot.

Highly religious Americans are also less likely to view inefficient energy practices as morally wrong, the report says. The same pattern is also seen when they are asked about eating food that takes a lot of energy to produce.

Reverend said. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest, and executive director of GreenFaith, a global multi-faith environmental organization based in New York, who was not surprised by the results since he does not see culturally and politically conservative Americans prioritizing climate action. .

“What this study does not tell us, however, is the role that religion, when used effectively, can play in moving concerned but inactive people into public climate action,” a Harper said. “More research needs to be done on this so that we can all better understand the positive role religion can play in the fight against climate change.”


Associated Press religion coverage is supported by the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this matter.

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