Evangelicals Go Green -- Will Conservative Candidates Follow Suit?

They are only slightly less likely than the rest of the population to believe global warming is caused by humans, or that the Earth is getting warmer. Forty-seven out of every 100 white evangelicals surveyed said stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost. Thirty-eight percent said such regulations would hurt the economy.

"Evangelicals as a whole, along with the general public, have been moving in a pro-environment direction," Green said.

Cizik attributes the trend to grassroots efforts. "It is so important that our evangelical leaders come forward as they have to say 'We believe in creation care,' and that's what's occurring, leader to leader, preacher to pastor to parishioner."

Growing the Movement

Despite outcries for Cizik's removal, the evangelical environmental movement continues to gain momentum. Suellen Lowry, director of the Noah Alliance, said some resistance is to be expected. "People get attacked when they speak the truth, because when the truth says, 'Hey, we maybe need to change our ways,' there will be people who resist," she said. "The Bible is full of that and the history of humankind is full of that."

The Noah Alliance attracted media attention in 2005 for being an unusual collaboration between Jewish and evangelical groups that came together to block former California Rep. Richard Pombo's proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act. The bill didn't pass, in large part due to the alliance's efforts.

Now Lowry will ask scientists across America to meet locally and talk about regional solutions to the global warming crisis, especially as it relates to endangered species. She envisions their expertise traveling from the bench to the pulpit and eventually, to the politicians. "You need to have public policy as part of the solution," Lowry said.

Individual churches are also doing their part to spread the word. And there is perhaps no better example than the Vineyard Boise Church in Idaho. When Robinson first preached creation care to his congregation they gave him a standing ovation. "They were just cheering, like it's about time someone said something about this," Robinson said.

After that, they immediately went to work. Robinson encouraged his parishioners to "tithe" their trash, or, in other words, recycle. He found volunteers to tend a sprawling organic garden yielding a huge harvest of vegetables for the homeless. He even incorporated environmentalism into the church's missionary work.

Today Robinson is talking to contractors about powering church facilities with solar panels, and he is also researching a new kind of coffee cup made from corn husks. "We have about 2,000 people show up on Sunday and the church is big on coffee," Robinson explained. Rather than sending a bunch of paper or Styrofoam cups to the landfill, the church would use the corn husk cups to create mulch for their garden.

Robinson's environmental stewardship has become a model for the more than 1,500 other Vineyard churches worldwide. Earlier this year Bert Waggoner, national director of the Vineyard, USA, called upon every pastor to follow Robinson's example and preach creation care.

"We're really trying to create a national Christian movement," Robinson said. In September his church will host an environmental stewardship conference. Their keynote speaker will be Cizik, who is currently busy planning an event of his own. In the hopes of persuading nonbelievers, Cizik will travel to Alaska this month along with five scientists and several evangelical leaders to produce a documentary about climate change and its impact on America.

"The scripture says the Earth is the Lord's," said Cizik. "We will not stand by silently and allow our Christian faith to be willy nilly, the religion of the status quo on these subjects. No way. And as Churchill said, 'Never give in, never, never.' And we won't."

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