Climate High Ground: How Religious Leaders Are Shifting the Discussion

Just over a year ago, the discourse surrounding climate change was political. Appropriated by pundits, climate change has been used to create divisiveness between Americans, but according to a series of recent reports, religious leaders are restructuring the climate discussion. Roser-Renouf, a lead author of the Faith, Morality and the Environment report, conducted by Yale and George Mason universities, suggests that news outlets frame climate change as a scientific and political issue, topics that alienate many Americans who are not concerned with either category.

When Pope Francis began speaking on climate change, his message was clear; climate change is a moral issue that requires everyone to act, regardless of political leanings. “It’s likely that more people will listen when religious leaders speak up about climate change,” according to Roser-Renouf. 

Yale's Anthony Leiserowitz agrees, sharing, “Each of the world’s religions is going back and re-examining and reinterpreting their sacred texts to seek for guidance on how, in the 21st century, to use our deepest values and convictions to guide us in this very different world." If Pope Francis transitioned the framing of climate talks so drastically in one year, imagine what we could accomplish if every faith leader did the same. Luckily many are starting to do so, and some have been participating for decades, with representatives from all faith backgrounds sharing their moral imperative in acting on climate change. If you haven't already spoken to your congregation about climate change, now is the time to start.

On Moral Grounds

Maya Chandra | Yale News

2015’s best advocate for the rights of the environment may very well be the Pope. And if other religious leaders follow his example, the U.S. just might be on its way to successfully combating climate change.

Climate change has been acknowledged as an environmental and politically divisive issue for years, but a new report published this month by Yale and George Mason universities suggests that redefining it as a moral issue may lead to more widespread support for action on behalf of Mother Earth.

The report, entitled “Faith, Morality and the Environment,” explores the wide range of American attitudes on climate change. Dividing these attitudes into six distinct categories, the report analyzes the traits and beliefs that each grouping holds. Its analysis suggests that large sectors of the American public who do not currently feel that climate change is a dangerous and very present threat can be convinced of the necessity of action if the issue’s presented as a moral one.

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