More Than 180 Evangelical Leaders Endorse Obama’s Carbon Reduction Plan



More than 180 evangelical Christian leaders signed a letter this week backing President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, the latest effort in a growing faith-based environmental movement to curb the effects of climate change.

On Thursday, theologically conservative faith leaders sent a letter to President Obama endorsing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), a sweeping, historic project unveiled in June and set to be officially released next week. Signers of the letter, which was posted on the Evangelical Environmental Network’s website, framed their support in explicitly moral terms.

“We see overcoming the climate challenge as one of the great moral opportunities of our time, a chance to fulfill the Great Commandments to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves,” the letter read. “It is God’s love that calls all of us to take on this challenge. That is why we write to offer our support and encouragement for your efforts to overcome the climate challenge.”

Signatories included pastors, teachers, and evangelical thinkers, such as National Latino Evangelical Coalition president Rev. Gabriel Salguero, bestselling Christian author Rev. Brian McLaren, and prominent evangelical theologian Dr. David Gushee. The letter also cited several professors affiliated with conservative Christian schools such as Wheaton College, Calvin College, North Point University, and Oral Roberts University.

The group lauded the potential economic and health benefits of the CPP, which will likely improve public health and reduce energy costs for most Americans by cutting carbon pollution by 30 percent from 2005 levels. It also drew a connection between a “pro-life” position and support for green initiatives, noting that “nearly 230,000 pro-life Christians” have contacted the EPA to express support for the plan.

“[Obama’s] Climate Action Plan … when fully implemented, will: (1) position America to lead the world in the coming clean energy revolution; (2) create good jobs here in America, (3) reduce pollution that fouls our air and makes our water impure, (4) protect the health of our children and the unborn, and (5) build resiliency to the consequences of climate change both here and in vulnerable poor nations,” the letter read.

The effort reflects a growing form of conservative Christian environmentalism. Although evangelical Protestants are historically more likely than most Americans to deny climate change, scores of evangelical leaders have begun calling for their fellow believers to embrace “creation care” — a theological framework that focuses on faith-based concern for the environment. Meanwhile, evangelical scientists such as Dr. Katherine Hayhoe have become leading activists within the environmental movement. Earlier this month, a group of more than 200 evangelical scientists sent a letter to Congress demanding legislation that would reduce carbon emissions and protect the planet.

Evangelicals are also increasingly active participants in ecumenical and interfaith efforts to combat climate change. Conservative Christians insisted President Obama discuss climate change with Pope Francis when the two met last year. Several evangelical leaders recently added their names to a similar letter addressed to Congress, which expressed support for the pontiff’s encyclical on the environment and demanded that lawmakers introduce legislation to curtail the impact of human-caused climate change. In addition, several pastors from the Evangelical Environmental Network are scheduled to meet with Vatican officials in August to discuss climate concerns.


Reprinted with permission from Climate Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress


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