Will ‘Creation Care’ Have an Impact on Republican Leadership?

Climate change has long been a point of contention in the Republican party; that is until Tuesday when 10 House Republicans announced they would sign a resolution acknowledging human activity's contribution to climate change. Granted, this only represents a fraction of the party, it does, however, mark a shift in a line of thinking about the environment, or more accurately, 'creation care.' The term, which found its genesis (pun intended) in various religious traditions, is beginning to have a profound impact on religiously conservative GOP rhetoric.

Cassandra Carmichael, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, contends that '…the religious right…represent(s) the best chance of convincing Republican leaders to embrace environmental protection.' Carmichael continued, "They [Religious communities] might not refer to it as the environment, that's a word that has political meaning for some people, but when we talk about caring for creation I haven't come across a person of faith who said they didn't think we should care for God's creation."

Although, the transition in discourse isn't simply a matter of semantics. Karen Liftin, an environmental politics professor at the University of Washington explains, "If climate change becomes more reframed as an ethical issue and a human issue rather than 'the environment,' people in general are more willing to respond to issues that have a human face." 

'Creation Care' May Make Environmentalists Out of the GOP

Colleen Curry | Vice

When US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced Friday the successful conservation of a threatened species — the little-known, unglamorous New England cottontail — it was the culmination of a bipartisan effort on the environment.

The plight of the rabbit was typical of threatened species in the United States: Deforestation and development led to the loss of about 80 percent of its natural habitat over the last 50 years. Maine put the cottontail under state protections, and the federal government decided in 2008 to officially consider listing it under the US Endangered Species Act. In the years since, government officials have worked with private land owners around New England to restore habitats and reintroduce the rabbits, according to the Press Herald of Portland, Maine. 

The story of the rabbit's conservation is, according to those on the religious right and the liberal left, representative of common ground the political parties have found on environmental issues, which could lead to greater cooperation in the future, even on seemingly intractable battles such as climate change. 

Following the announcement that the rabbit species' numbers had rebounded significantly in the past decade, a coalition of environmental religious groups including evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews boasted of their support of conservation efforts and work in "protecting God's creation" — or, in the vernacular of the faith-based environmental movement, creation care. 

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