This past May, Blessed Tomorrow encouraged you to participate in a joint effort between COIN (Climate Outreach and Information Network) and Our Voice, to survey what climate messaging strategies work best in the 5 largest faith traditions: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. While tradition specific findings are displayed, the survey provides 5 overall takeaways for communicating climate change to a sundry of religious communities.
1. Be Cautious With Blame And Fear
No one wanted climate change to happen, and garnering support requires inclusive language, not exclusive verbiage. Bring people into the fold, don’t push them away.
2. Present Threats And Solutions In Terms Of Core Values
In speaking to the core values of a person’s faith, you reinforce a shared ethical structure that already exists in their religious narrative. Just as religious values are a response to spiritual challenges – climate action is a response to the spiritual malady of climate change.
3. Promote Rewards Of Stronger Faith And Belonging
People of faith have spiritual objectives, and proposing climate action as a conduit to achieve that goal tests well across faith traditions. Explain to your listener how caring for people is an integral component to their spiritual growth, and overall belonging to their community.
4. Create A Narrative Arc
For thousands of years, faith traditions have relied on narrative(s) to wrestle complex spiritual quandaries in an attempt to demonstrate universal truths. In reapplying these transformative accounts, we align our messaging campaigns with the triumph over moral hurdles.
5. Find Specific Language For Each Faith Within A Narrative Theme
Every faith tradition employs specific language to discuss core values and practices. When speaking to a person of faith about climate change, speak in a way that is both comprehensible and reinforcing to a set of core values that you both share.
Our Voices, a global multifaith campaign for climate change action, commissioned COIN to develop and test language around climate change that could mobilise activity across the world’s 5 main faith groups (Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim) in the lead up to the UN climate conference in Paris.
We developed trial narratives and identified key framing language from 3 sources: interfaith statements on climate change, interviews with faith experts, and our extensive experience developing climate change communications for distinct audiences. We then tested these trial narratives in narrative workshops (one per faith) and gathered additional feedback through an online survey.
In this 4-page document, we present key insight from this preliminary research, which we hope to build on in the future.