Climate change is “the most consequential threat facing humanity,” according to Harvard president Lawrence Bacow. Yet, the debate over how to address global warming is often framed solely in political terms. Absent are considerations of how religious faith influences public perceptions and moral choices, and whether religiously devout individuals feel a unique obligation to protect the divinely created world.
The Pew Research Center released a major report exploring the connections between the religious affiliation of Americans and their perspectives on climate change and the environment.
The survey reveals that 80% of Americans with a religious affiliation believe that God wants humans to care for the Earth. Yet a much smaller percentage—52%—think climate change is a critical issue, and only 47% think climate change is a result of human activity.
The survey found, on the other hand, that non-religious Americans are much more likely than religious Americans to believe the Earth’s temperature is rising as a result of human activity. More specifically, the report reveals that, “70% of people in the low religious commitment category say the Earth is warming due to human behavior, compared with 39% of highly religious Americans.”
Importantly, the results of the survey also reveal that the source of resistance to concern about climate change is not driven primarily by religious belief, but rather by political affiliation.
The survey also examines beliefs concerning the impact of attempts to address climate change. For example, the survey reveals that 56% of evangelical Protestants are concerned that “unnecessary environmental regulations” that aim to address climate change will lead to lost freedoms in the United States.
To read the full Pew Research Center report about the survey, click here.