Monthly Archives: May 2013

ch.2, ec-p.30 – methodological, theoretical, and analytic reasons why empirical findings on the association of religion with environmental concern continue appearing contradictory…

“Three factors keep religion’s role in environmentalism murky. A methodological one is ongoing reliance on quantitative investigations that keeps analysts from a deeper, more exploratory search of how religion informs highly religious people’s perceptions of environmental problems. Lack of theoretical correspondence among conceptual variables and measures of religion and environmental concern exacerbates this, increasing confounding or spurious findings. And few analytic frameworks exist that are designed to identify both the presence of religious factors and the possible mediating or competing non-religious influences on religious people’s views toward environmental policy such as political and economic factors. This makes it difficult to reconcile the apparently contradictory empirical results presently in the literature that describe religion’s association with environmentalism. The consistently weak statistical association between varying measures of religiosity and environmentalism, and inconsistent distinctions between engaging in individual pro-environmental behaviors and expressions of public support for environmental policy, continues demonstrating this lack of clarity.”



ch.2, ec-p.29 – a summary paragraph closing the discussion of research on the role of religion, specifically christianity and protestantism, in environmental concern before moving to a discussion of the analytic framework for the study on evangelical christians’ perceptions of climate change…

“The general social bases of environmentalism among the US public are clearer and more stable than the view on its religious base. Evidence shows it exists and work continues identifying which expressions of environmental concern typically are associated with religious people. Demographics describe, however, but don’t explain why believers care about environmental problems or participate in the environmental movement. These structural characteristics give little insight for how religious knowledge, mental schema, and cultural tools shape peoples’ perceptions of ecological conditions as problematic or inform their personal judgments about environmental policy. Further exploration into these forms of environmental concern across and within religious sub-groups in relation to social institutions and social structures is needed (Freudenburg 1991). These include factors social constructionist perspectives emphasize like different socialization experiences such as religious upbringing and inter-generational mass media effects (Kanagy, Humphrey, and Firebaugh 1994).”



ch.2, ec-p.28 – political and economic beliefs, attitudes, and values compete with religious factors for influencing the environmental concern of political conservatives

“Another response to these mixed findings draws on structuration or cultural social theory to reconcile religion’s seemingly contradictory influences. These quantitative investigations show religious beliefs intermix with political and economic values to influence people’s views about resource depletion and pollution issues such as the effect of human activity on ecosystems, the relationship between nature and the economy, and environmental policy  (Dekker, Ester, and Nas 1997; Dietz, Stern, and Guagnano 1998; Hornsby-Smith and Proctor 1995; Kanagy, Humphrey, and Firebaugh 1994; Sherkat and Ellison 2007). This work demonstrates religion itself does not exclusively shape how people view human-environment relationships or consider environmental policy. Political factors mediate or neutralize otherwise pro-environmental intentions for Protestants who identify more strongly as political conservatives (Sherkat and Ellison 2007).” 



ch.2, ec-p.27 – the relationship of religion, protestant, evangelical, or otherwise is complicated by theoretical and methodological issues arising from how researcher’s empirically examine it, and by non-religious influences such as political, economic, pragmatic, and other factors that become especially relevant when the object or focus of “environmental concern” is an environmental problem that some argue must be addressed with public/environmental policy. for various reasons, this especially is the case for conservative protestants and evangelical christians

“Conflating “Christian” with conservative Protestant or fundamentalist maintains both an illusory homogenous negative association between religion and environmentalism and continues yielding findings showing little to no effect of religiosity on environmental concern. The cultural foundations of conservative Christians’ views about environmental issues and problems may really rest on their “fundamentalist Biblical orientation”, but it quickly mixes with their political commitments and economic values (Hand and Van Liere 1984). Religiously conservative social activists’ “views on environmental policy are part of much more comprehensive religious and political worldviews” (Guth, Kellstedt, Smidt, and Green 1993). Individuals’ adherence to a wider, complex, but “rigid political and religious ‘story’”—rather than simple “biblical literalism”—better accounts for the contradictory expressions of environmental views with some behaviors (Greeley 1993). This likely includes the variation observed between highly religious people’s willingness to perform individualistic private actions such as recycling compared to supporting public policy solutions to environmental problems intended to address their more structural societal causes as seen with climate change policy.”



Mobilizing Ideas

Activists and Scholars Debate Social Movements and Social Change