American Evangelicals and the Politics of Climate Change

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Abstract:

With Democrats expanding their congressional majority in both houses of Congress and with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, environmental prospects should be looking up. Yet, following the recent slowdown in the global economy, investments in renewable energies are dwindling while sizeable portions of the Democratic Caucus remain uneasy over a number of proposed environmental provisions. Despite these developments, President Obama remains committed to the environment, arguing that the United States must invest in a greener, more energy-efficient future if it is to ward off long-term economic damage. As these political tensions play out, the future of America's environmental policy remains unclear. Yet to the surprise of many political observers, President Obama is finding an unlikely ally in a growing crop of evangelical Christians. Increasingly, American evangelicals are rallying behind the "Care of Creation" movement and are adopting the environment as a matter of theological importance. With evangelical support, Republican politicians—as well as moderate and conservative Democrats previously unaffected by the efforts of the environmental lobby—are beginning to re-evaluate their environmental position to better accommodate the changing views of their religious base. This article assesses what—if any—impact such a development might have on the future of America's environmental policy by focusing on current polls, the activities of relevant interest groups, and the actions of both political and religious leaders.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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