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Poll: Pastors skeptical of global warming
David Roach, Baptist Press
April 27, 2011

Poll: Pastors skeptical of global warming

Poll: Pastors skeptical of global warming
David Roach, Baptist Press
April 27, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Protestant pastors are more skeptical

about global warming today than they were two years ago.

That is the finding of a LifeWay Research telephone survey of 1,000 randomly

selected Protestant pastors. The survey also found that pastors’ views on the

subject vary widely by denomination, education, location and political ideology.

When asked to respond to the statement, “I believe global warming is real and

manmade,” 41 percent of pastors strongly disagree, up from 27 percent in a

similar survey conducted in 2008. That marks an increase of more than 50

percent.

According to the new survey — which is based on data collected in October — 19

percent of pastors somewhat disagree with the statement, 13 percent somewhat

agree and 23 percent strongly agree. Combining the answers, 60 percent disagree

and 36 percent agree.

Twenty-five percent strongly agreed in 2008 that global warming is real and

manmade.

According to the Pew Research Center, this trend among pastors parallels a

trend among Americans in general. Between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of

Americans who said there is no solid evidence that the earth is warming

increased from 21 percent to 32 percent, Pew said. In addition, in 2010, 34

percent said the earth is warming because of human activity, down from 47

percent in 2008.

“Pastors’ sentiments on global warming have shifted right in step with

Americans in general,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “The

number of pastors who are firmly convinced global warming is manmade has not

changed much, but many who were beginning to agree during the 2008 election

cycle now strongly disagree.”

Evangelical and mainline pastors are divided on global warming:

  • 68 percent of evangelicals disagree strongly or somewhat that global warming

    is real and manmade, compared with 45 percent of mainline pastors. Forty-four

    percent of evangelicals strongly disagree, but only 30 percent of mainline

    pastors feel the same.

  • 39 percent of mainline pastors strongly agree that global warming is real and

    manmade, but only 14 percent of evangelical pastors strongly agree.

The survey also found a deep political divide on the issue among pastors.

A full 65 percent of pastors who are Democrats strongly agree, along with 24

percent of Independents and 6 percent of Republicans that global warming is

real and manmade. But 57 percent of pastors who are Republicans strongly

disagree, along with 36 percent of Independents and 6 percent of Democrats.

Among pastors who describe their political ideology as progressive or liberal,

78 percent strongly agree that global warming is real and manmade. Yet only 7

percent of conservative pastors and 6 percent of very conservative pastors

strongly agree.

Sixty-nine percent of those labeling themselves very conservative strongly

disagree with the statement. Forty-seven percent of conservatives and 3 percent

of progressives and liberals strongly disagree.

Half of Protestant pastors (52 percent) address the issue of the environment to

their churches once a year or less — virtually unchanged compared to 2008 (50

percent).

Pastors who consider themselves evangelical speak to their churches on the

environment less often than mainline pastors. While 49 percent of evangelicals

address the environment once a year or more, 67 percent of mainline pastors

address it once a year or more.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville, Ky.)

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