Historically, evangelicals in America tended to land on the conservative side of social issues. Millennials are taking a different view. Recognizing that something is happening to the plant life and other living creatures that share the Earth with humans, millennials, specifically evangelical millennials, are aiming for a society where the needs of both the people and the planet are met.
"It now appears that evangelicals, especially millennial evangelicals, are starting to rebuff the advances of the climate-denial machine and to absorb climate action as an aspect of their faith – which compels them, after all, to be good stewards of God’s creation." - Jeff Turrentine, Natural Resource Defense Council, OnEarth
Young Believers at the Forefront
A recent Pew Research study found that younger millennials as a body generally believe that the Earth is warming and that climate change is a man-made issue.
These young people are between the ages of 18 and 29; however, most adults under the age of 50 consider climate change to be a problem as well.
Evangelical millennials take the issue a bit more personally than older evangelicals, believing that man-made damage to God’s Earth should not occur, and showing up in great numbers to climate action events like the People’s Climate March.
There, two leading members of Youth Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.EC.A) spoke to the purpose of such a grand presence at climate-related events and the importance of taking their advocacy a step further: bringing important matters like climate change to the attention of Congress.
It’s critical that the evangelical church have a presence at these major cultural moments...It’s important that Members of Congress know that there are young evangelicals who care about climate action.
Since the march, Y.E.C.A has continued to lobby on behalf of climate action. They are but one of many millennial-led organizations that are playing their part. Other groups include:
Millennials are supported by the many diverse organizations that are currently working toward climate solutions. Millennial leadership, however, stands in the forefront and is currently driving the climate change landscape. Reportedly, 55% of Millennials believe that climate change is caused by human action against the Earth. This includes power plants and other industrial atmospheres, as well as emissions from automobiles.
Millennials are not shy about putting their beliefs about climate change into advocacy and action. Based on United States voter data, 80% of Millennials who voted decidedly chose candidates who were in favor of transitioning to clean, renewable energy in the next 15 years.
Millennials are the “who” when it comes to leading on climate action. But understanding what drives this generation, specifically, to protect the environment, we must look more closely at the “what.”
Why Evangelicals, Why Millennials
Millennials can relate to climate change like no other group of adults. It is an issue that unless resolved, will go on to affect their lives and the lives of their children. The changing forms of educating the public and the abundance of new media have created what experts at the Natural Resource Defense Council believe to be a “generational gap.” Millennials are more exposed to the data on climate change, and therefore, have more thoughts and ideas for solutions to the problem.
For evangelicals, the “what” goes a bit deeper. Driven by their committal to God’s laws, evangelicals believe they must not only hold strong views on climate change but must also act to protect the “least of us.” When the views of a Millennial Americans and a religious Americans collide, this creates a force of action that may be the exactly what’s needed for climate solutions.
Y.E.C.A has an action plan that when taken on by any group, can result in much-needed climate action and legislation to accompany it. Here are the steps:
- Further mobilize the millennial generation of evangelicals
- Influence the older evangelical generations
- Pass the influence on to political leaders
These steps, although created by younger people in action, can be the action plan to help all generations and leaders from all walks of life protect the planet.
Follow the Leader
Faith leaders can follow the example of millennial evangelicals to add a higher level of climate change advocacy into their preaching, teaching, and outreach. This is the mission of one’s service to God, and without the guidance, God’s people and his divine creation may flourish.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” - Proverbs 11:14, Holy Bible, The Gideons International Version
Leaders can keep God’s people and the Earth safe by acting on the moral duty - every believer has to safeguard the planet and its inhabitants.
Some faith organizations have already joined the creation care cause. Blessed Tomorrow’s Let’s Lead project invites these active religious leaders to share their stories, in hopes to guide others to do the same. Learn more here.