summary paragraph on religion and environmental concern research, specifically work focusing on conservative Protestants and evangelical Christians…
“Social scientific understanding of religion’s role in environmental concern is murky though. Decades after Lynn White’s (1967) charge that Christianity causes modern ecological crises, the association of religion with environmentalism still appears contradictory. “Environmental evangelicals” exist, Christians care about creation, and interfaith coalitions join secular advocates in protests lobbying policymakers for action on climate change. Conservative Protestants who oppose government environmental protection policies contrast this pro-environmental activism and are the most likely nonbelievers in US society about if global climate change is happening. The accumulated evidence from quantitative survey-based inquiries remains mixed about if, and how, “dominion” or “literalist” biblical beliefs, a Christian “fundamentalist” orientation toward the world, conservative Protestant eschatology, and dispensationalist theology explain climate change skepticism and lack of public support for environmentalism among this religious sector of US society.”
here’s the first “big bite”… what do you think? is it clear, does it make sense, whether you agree/disagree?
“This empirical finding questions assuming the meaning of “dominion
beliefs” is fixed among religious people. It suggests, theoretically at least, this is not the case. Christians holding dominion beliefs may express agreement with stewardship
measures if they personally see it as “dominion like stewardship” rather than how White originally characterized it. Respondents and researchers, in fact, do sometimes envision “stewardship” differently. …every conservative Christian who did not believe climate change science because of their view on how humans relate to the environment, also said
“stewardship of the environment was an important human responsibility based on their faith”. In this case the reverse occurs with these evangelical Christians meaning “stewardship like dominion” of the kind White critiques. This brings a two-fold significance to examining the association of religion with environmental concern. The theoretical implication reflects a disjuncture between how religious people define the perceived biblical “dominion” mandate for humans “to rule over Creation” and express that meaning to others compared with what analysts assume “biblical stewardship” means and how they measure it. Several methodological consequences follow. Discerning this important interpretive nuance depends on specific question wording for dominion belief, if analysts rely on a single measure of it, and whether they use qualitative research designs informed by a constructionist perspective. Researchers either must include questions specifically probing stewardship’s meaning, also assess respondents’ more general orientation (paradigm, worldview) toward the natural environment, or they need to adopt research strategies amenable to more comprehensive and deeper explorations of dominion beliefs and their underlying cultural meanings held by highly religious people.”
Stewardship Graphic (Photo credit: jnshaumeyer)