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WIREs Clim Change
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Who are American evangelical Protestants and why do they matter for US climate policy?

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Abstract White evangelical Protestants are the most skeptical major religious group in the United States regarding climate change. While their position of political influence in the Republican coalition is widely recognised, the full range of effects of this position on evangelicals' climate opinions is not. To move research on evangelicals from the margins of climate change opinion research, we review and integrate the interdisciplinary literature on US evangelicals, climate change, and politics. In assessing this literature, we identify three areas in need of further research. First, there is a critical need for more research on the climate attitudes of evangelicals of color, who comprise a growing share of the evangelical tradition in the US. Second, highlighting the Christian Right's active engagement in the climate debate, we identify a need for more experimental work examining how cues from religious elites may shape evangelicals' opinions. Finally, we suggest that to better harness insights across disciplines, researchers must become more explicitly aware of how different disciplines conceptualize temporality. Attending to temporal scale suggests that a new approach is needed to test how dominion beliefs, which are widely thought to be an important theological driver of climate skepticism, operate. We also suggest that two factors that appear to play a weak or limited role in driving climate skepticism over the short term (anti‐science attitudes and evangelical religiosity) may in fact play a significant role in driving skepticism over the medium term. This article is categorized under: Perceptions, Behavior, and Communication of Climate Change > Perceptions of Climate Change Trans‐Disciplinary Perspectives > Humanities and the Creative Arts
Climate Change Concern Index by Religious Affiliation (2014). Note:  The Climate Change Concern Index is based on responses to two questions: whether respondents perceive climate change to be a crisis and whether respondents believe climate change will negatively affect them personally (Jones et al., 2014, p. 14). Source: Adapted with permission from Public Religion Research Institute, 2014
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Fluctuating Levels of Religious Climate Skepticism, 2010–2019—Evidence of Elite Cues? Note:  Climate skeptics are respondents who said there was no solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades. Skeptics were asked the “primary factor” for their views in an open‐ended format; responses were coded as religious if respondents gave answers that referenced religion, such as “God controls the weather.” Evangelicals are Protestants who self‐identified as evangelical Christians. See Appendix A for sample sizes. Source:  Reprinted with permission from Borick, Christopher, Mills, Sarah, and Rabe, Barry. National Surveys on Energy and Environment
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Acceptance that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity among white evangelicals and evangelicals of color (2008–2019). Note:  White evangelicals are Protestants who identified themselves religiously as evangelical Christian (Q: Would you describe yourself as an evangelical Christian?) and who identified themselves racially as white. Evangelicals of color are Protestants who identified themselves religiously as evangelical Christian and who identified themselves racially as African‐American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, Mixed Race, or Other. Across all survey waves, African Americans comprised 66%, Hispanic/Latino 19%, Asian 2%, and mixed race/other 13% of the “evangelicals of color” category. The percentages of those who accept anthropogenic climate change are lower in this dataset than have been reported in comparable studies because they are the result of a two‐part question. Only those who agreed that the earth was getting warmer were asked whether they thought the cause was human activities or mostly natural patterns. Respondents who though the climate was warming but volunteered that they thought it was a mix of human activities and natural patterns are not counted among those who “accept” anthropogenic warming (graphed above). While these percentages should therefore be compared with caution to other studies, they are nevertheless useful in showing the persistent gap in climate change acceptance between white evangelicals and evangelicals of color. See Appendix A for sample sizes. Source:  Reprinted with permission from Borick, Christopher, Mills, Sarah, and Rabe, Barry. National Surveys on Energy and Environment
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Trans-Disciplinary Perspectives > Humanities and the Creative Arts
Perceptions, Behavior, and Communication of Climate Change > Perceptions of Climate Change

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