White U.S. evangelicals most skeptical on climate change

April 17, 2009

Among U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are the least likely to believe that human activities are contributing to climate change, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. You can see the numbers, based on a broader 2008 poll, here.


Overall the Pew Forum found that a plurality, or 47 percent, of the adult U.S. population accepts that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming because of human activities. Most scientists have reached the conclusion that the planet’s climate is changing because of human-induced factors, notably the emissions from burning of the fossil fuels that drive the global economy.

Among religious groups Pew found that those who said they were unaffiliated with any faith tradition were the most likely to accept that humanity was warming the planet, with 58 percent of them taking that view.

Among white mainline Protestants the figure was 48 percent, it was 39 percent for black Protestants and 34 percent for white evangelical Protestants, a key base for the Republican Party whose leaders have often cast doubt on the link between emissions and climate change.

Former U.S. president George W. Bush pulled America out of the Kyoto treaty to curb emissions — a move hailed at the time by his Republican base — while President Barack Obama , a Democrat, has made climate a key policy priority.

Many evangelical Christians put their faith completely in the Bible which they see as the revealed word of God and so they also question other widely accepted scientific views such as evolution. Some have even suggested that climate change may be a sign that the biblical end times are drawing near.

But doubt about the link between human causes and climate change is hardly restricted to evangelicals in America. Overall 21 percent of Americans say there is no solid evidence that the earth is warming and 18 percent attribute it to natural causes. This is perhaps not surprising in a country that has an enduring love affair with the automobile.

(Photo: A view of the Manhattan skyline during Earth Hour in New York March 28, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES)


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This article makes a lot of assumptions. Saying “most scientists” believe in climate change is by no means correct. “Most scientists” I have talked to (I am an engineer and have talked to many) claim there is not an accurate way to predict “climate change”. And also blaming the unacceptance of climate change on our country loving cars is stupid. Cars are required for most in our society and don’t change people’s views on the environment. The idea that there isn’t facts would be the reason the country does not accept climate change.
I enjoy that the Christians lead the MAJORITY on this issue of most people not accepting the faulty science of climate change. The lie is costing the country tons of money and sure isn’t helping this recession.

Posted by Jarred | Report as abusive

There may not be an accurate way to measure climate change but it can be measured. And there is real. There is real Physics and Chemistry to back the theory behind Global Warming. No they can’t provide an exact number but they can tell us that there is a high probability that the temperature will increase and a very unlikely probability that nothing will happen or the temperature will decrease. If you want to trust God that is your protector fine, most people will error om the side of caution.

Is suspect ther will be people standing in 3 feet of seawater still denying Global Warming Exist. Skepticism is good, most scientiest are skeptics, but don’t confuse skepticism with stupidity.

Posted by Blogger | Report as abusive

way to go, jarred: i’m a physician and so not unfamiliar with science and its establishment, and a christian who sedes the climate change tommyrot as just another way leftist fearmongers and control freaks try to gain power. i remember the nonsense about “global cooling,” and am still awaiting an unbiased analysis of pertinent data

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, the ignorant are always saved by the wise, who don’t want to be devastated with them, allowing them to forever claim that there never was an issue. One is tempted to sterilize them, stick them in a cave with a flint knife and a bear skin and say, “Have a nice life.” Doubly so when they willfully accept calamity, calling it armageddon. Let the consequences they reap strike them and leave us out of it! Ah, then there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth! As to global warming, let’s see some proof that it isn’t happening. So long as there’s a reasonable basis for concern, we must act.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

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[…] White US Evangelicals Most Skeptical on Climate Change (Reuters) […]

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pete cann: “reasonable” is a pregnant word, & implies objectivity and dispassionate analysis free of political baggage; ie, totally unrelated to global warming. the same data were trotted out during the global cooling farce, and the recommendations were also the same – you call this science? call it armageddon, ragnarok, goetterdaemmerung, or whatever – i call it crapola. ps: do you compost, take public transportation, and pay attention to exessive use of heating and cooling?

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

The media has made a few big blunders recently and its just them basically pointing the finger at certain groups.

Climate change… its for real. But i believe in the bible. And the Climate change plays nicely into the nasty picture Revelations portrays. Scientist have contridicted themselves so much that it has become appearent that they dont know what will happen under these circumstances. Some things they think will happen or could happen.. and on an on it goes.

But theres alot that man dosnt know and only thinks he knows. And teaches to society like its the truth.

Since i believe in the bible.. im indifferent to the climate change. I do recognize that we are in uncharted waters as far as we know. But i believe God has it well in hand. So i wonder if these other “christains” have the same view. indiffernt, and its just being misinterpeted as not acknowledging the facts of climate change.

Besides… we are so far into uncharted water that point of no return was 10 years ago or so. Now we are in for the ride, like it or not. So did our “cars” put us over the edge? No. What ever needs to be done to facilate what the Lord has in store for us will be done. Wheather its out of a muffler or a volcanoe. Thy will be done.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Andrew, if your home was on fire, would you get up and leave or just stay and pray?

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

Andrew, you have clearly made the point that humans don’t consider future consequences for present actions. Why should one concern themselves with actions not prohibited by the Book? Does it say “Thou shalt not burn fossil fuels”? It is easy to say a problem is someone else’s doing even if that someone else is a deity. This is not an excuse for inaction. What ever happened to “God helps those that help themselves”? And why should we do nothing about our fate when clearly we have the ability to mitigate it? I for one do not want to see the fate of a planet deferred to those who would see it’s end because of a prophetic religious conviction.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

It’s not that many evangelical Christians neceessarily doubt climate change as a fact, it’s that it is inconsequential to the them; because what happnes was supposed to happen; and regardless, the earth will be restored when Christ returns- at least that’s what groups like the Mormons say. How profound is that? That’s what I believe is fundamentallly at the heart of the polling data. How does one convince them to think otherwise without tearing down many of their core religious beliefs?

Posted by Mark Scoville | Report as abusive

Fervent believers of a “god” that is taking care of everything “bad ” in this world are living all the time with blinders on their eyes. There are too many dangerous things happening in this world that proves that a change in climate, among other calamities, is truly a reality! What is really their cause for denying reality is that the world population is growing out of control that is the main cause for disasters, but this will conflict with the bibles instruction to “increase and multiply”. This is yet another ridiculous command by individuals that had no idea that the population would ever be this large. Let’s see if “god” will handle all this trouble – it is very doubtful.

Posted by Realist | Report as abusive

Clearly, far too many evangelicals and fundamentalists prefer blind faith to science and facts. Overpopulation, overconsumption, waste, resource depletion, inefficiency, and indifference to science will seriously hurt our children and grandchildren unless more of us wake up and get our heads out of the sand.

Posted by Edd Doerr | Report as abusive

The polls also show that 96% of all climate scientists accept the IPCC findings. That’s too high a percentage to disregard.

Scientific discussions of the issues may be found on



Posted by John Burgeson | Report as abusive

“the same data were trotted out during the global cooling farce, and the recommendations were also the same ” — JD

False. There was never a global cooling scare — among scientists. There were a few sensationalistic, misleading articles in mass-circulation magazines in the 1970s, but is simply not true, no matter how many times the lie is repeated, that _climatologists_ ever declared we were about to experience a new ice age. Sadly, one can never completely dislodge an urban myth of this sort once it goes viral . . . And of course, even if scientists HAD predicted cooling, which they didn’t (a few said it was a possibility but that there was not enough data at the time to call it one way or the other), the idea that the data today are “the same” after 3 decades of astonishingly productive research, or that the recommendations for fighting cooling could or would have been the same as those for fighting, reveals a certain amount of, shall we say, confusion.

If reality matters to you, if facts matter, check out RealClimate.org or the IPCC’s summary for policymakers at http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report  /ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf .

For the historical facts about the global-cooling scare that wasn’t, see “The Global Cooling Myth” athttp://www.realclimate.org/index.php/a rchives/2005/01/the-global-cooling-myth/ .

Posted by Larry GIlman | Report as abusive

[…] Probably not, but it makes you think. According to the aforementioned poll, and a story from WOW News’ Faithworld, white folk hangin… […]

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Geologists still believe we are headed toward another Ice age Larry. They too would be well advised to consider the IPCC’s findings as well as Scripps Oceanographic Institute’s work.

Andrew and Jd, are you listening. The Industrial Revolution was fueled by massive amounts of coal. Scientist in the 1870s began to consider what effect all this CO2 being emitted and already suspected warming was taking place. Revelle and Keeling began gathering the hard data to prove or disprove greenhouse emissions were rising in the late 1950s with a new tool,infrared mass spectrometry. Oxygen has decreased and CO2 has increased every year since, except for 1961 when both levels remained flat. Basic physics ( which is no longer taught to most high school students) shows us that increased oxygen has a cooling effect and increased CO2 has a warming effect when either are introduced to a controlled environment (the atmosphere). Conversely, when these gases are introduced in the combustion process of fuel their effects are just the opposite.

The great misfortune is that our schools have neglected to teach our children these findings for 40 years.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

[…] new report by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life claims white United States evangelicals are the least likely to believe human activities are contributing to climate change: Most scientists have reached the conclusion that the planet’s climate is changing because of […]

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