A majority of Protestant pastors say they believe global warming is real and man-made, although such sentiments aren’t held by evangelical pastors, according to a new LifeWay Research survey.
A total of 53 percent of Protestant pastors said they agreed with the statement “I believe global warming is real and man-made,” including 34 percent who strongly agreed and 19 percent who somewhat agreed. Thirty-eight percent disagreed (24 percent “strongly” and 14 percent “somewhat”), while 10 percent weren’t sure.
The poll’s findings are a major change from a similar LifeWay Research survey in 2010, when only 36 percent of Protestant pastors agreed with the statement and 60 percent disagreed.
“Fewer pastors are rejecting global warming and climate change out of hand,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Yet pastors are still split on the subject, likely following along with political divides.”
Mainline pastors (71 percent) were more likely than evangelical pastors (39 percent) to believe global warming is real and man-made.
Among other findings:
- Methodist pastors (80 percent) were the most likely to agree with the statement, followed by Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (67 percent), Lutherans (63 percent), Christian/Church of Christ (43 percent), Baptists (37 percent) and Pentecostals (32 percent).
- Seventy-eight percent of African American pastors agreed with the statement.
- Pastors in the Northeast (63 percent) were more likely to agree with the statement than pastors from other regions.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of Protestant pastors agreed with the statement, “Our church has taken tangible steps to reduce our carbon footprint.” Mainline pastors (67 percent) were more likely than evangelical pastors (47 percent) to agree with the statement.
“Climate change can be a difficult issue to address because the causes and effects are not always easily seen where you live,” McConnell said. “Much like the current coronavirus pandemic, environmental mitigation efforts require trust in the scientists measuring the problem and finding the best solutions that balance all of the concerns involved.”
The poll was based on a survey of 1,000 pastors and released April 21.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ekaterina Simonova
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.