Most Protestant pastors don’t think climate change is real

Most Protestant pastors don’t think climate change is real


Say, God, who do you think is turning the weather weird?

A majority of Protestant pastors in the U.S. fail to grasp the scientific fact that humans are turning the weather weird. But, hey, at least they recycle!

Asked whether they “believe global warming is real and man made,” only 43 percent of Protestant pastors said “yes” during a a recent survey by LifeWay Research, an arm of a company that sells Bibles, church supplies, and the like. That was up from 36 percent in 2010 but less than the 47 percent who said “yes” in 2008.

Unsurprisingly, Democratic pastors are far more likely to understand human-induced climate change than Republican ones. But in an odd twist, the older pastors are more likely to get climate change than their younger colleagues. Way to be, church seniors.

From a summary of the survey findings:

Pastors identifying as Democrats are the most likely to strongly agree (76 percent) in the validity of man-made global warming, followed by Independents (20 percent). Just 7 percent of Republican pastors strongly agree. Conversely, Republican pastors are the most likely to strongly disagree (49 percent), followed by Independents (35 percent) and Democrats (5 percent).

“Pastor opinions on global warming reflect their own political beliefs,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “The pendulum of public and pastor opinions on man-made global warming is swinging back toward agreement but still lacks a majority.” …

The survey also reveals pastors age 65 or older put more stock in the validity of global warming over their younger counterparts. This group is more likely (32 percent) than pastors age 45-54 (20 percent) and 18-44 (19 percent) to strongly agree with the statement: “I believe global warming is real and man made.”

While there’s confusion among these leaders about who is actually influencing the weather, at least most of them are into recycling. Again from the research summary:

Recycling programs … [are] well established among churches. More than 60 percent of Protestant pastors say their church has an active recycling program in place at their church building while a third (34 percent) do not.

“More churches are proactively recycling and reducing carbon emissions in urban areas,” McConnell said. “While this may reflect being attentive to local community needs, it also may simply be a reflection of municipal regulations or the economic pressure on utility bills. Either way, it seems to be good news that churches are caring more about the environment and acting accordingly.”

Hurrah for recycling, but boo for climate ignorance. Could we respectfully suggest that you get your information about climate change from scientists rather than your pastor?

John Upton is a science aficionado and green news junkie who


, posts articles to


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blogs about ecology

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Most Protestant pastors don’t think climate change is real

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