ch 2 lit review

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.”



ch.2, ec-p.26 – why the association of religion with environmentalism is more complex than reducing it to a single measure of religiosity such as dominion or biblical literalism religious beliefs…

“In response to the still ambiguous evidence for the association of religion with environmentalism, some attribute the dampening effect of dominion belief and biblical literalism on environmental concern to a more encompassing fundamentalist orientation with both religious and non-religious cultural foundations. In this view, “Dominion Theology” has no scriptural basis and its associated environmental attitudes are not biblically based (Eckberg and Blocker 1996). This approach “would account for the ubiquitous Fundamentalism effect and could leave room for the positive effect of religious participation…[and] explain why we find independent effects of fundamentalist affiliation that do not clearly flow from the [Lynn White] Dominion hypothesis and why Bible belief has no independent effects [on environmental concern]” (Eckberg and Blocker 1996).”



ch.2, ec-p.25 – extending the point of the previous paragraph…

“Others seek more certain ground for religion’s role in environmentalism by focusing on conservative Protestant fundamentalism. But again, despite some evidence confirming its suspected negative association, the findings overall are not consistent. Although Christian “religious fundamentalism negatively predicted individual environmentalism”, other religious factors still do foster “individual environmental behaviors when fundamentalism and political variables are controlled” (Woodrum and Wolkomir 1997). Although used repeatedly as a religiosity measure in quantitative studies, the importance of singling out biblical literalism for its association with environmental concern is not certain. Its influence on environmental views appears enmeshed within a larger array of religious beliefs distinct to conservative dispensational theology (Guth, Green, Kellstedt, and Smidt 1995). Although initially strongly associated together, the effect of biblical literalism on congregants’ environmental attitudes dissipates or vanishes after accounting for the influence of social sources of information in their churches (Djupe and Hunt 2009).”



ch.2, ec-p.24 – empirical evidence is weak or lacking for the association of biblical literalism with various measures for different forms of expressing environmental concern…

“The role of biblical literalism also varies relative to comparisons with environmental beliefs, attitudes, intentions, or more ecological actions. When observed it does correspond with less concern in the way White claims Christianity reduces it, but the “effect was never strong” (Eckberg and Blocker 1989). Others find believer’s “high” view of scripture shows no direct influence on adherents’ environmental concern, concluding that the assumed or perceived association between them is spurious (Wolkomir, Futreal, Woodrum, and Hoban 1997). Even conceptualizing biblical literalism as agreement that “The story of Creation as written in the Bible is true” does not correspond with variations in denominational environmentalism (Wolkomir, Woodrum, Futreal, and Hoban 1997). More unexpectedly, biblical literalism and other typical expressions of individual’s conservative Protestant religiosity are not significantly associated with dominion beliefs (Woodrum and Hoban 1994). After finding biblical literalism and stronger belief in God (both cognitive belief religiosity measures) corresponds with weaker support for environmental protection spending, while frequent prayer (a religious behavior measure) was associated with those more willing to do so, Boyd (1999) concluded religious factors held little promise for understanding US environmentalism better.”



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