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Evangelical Report: Fighting Climate Change Is a Great Way to Love the Poor

The National Association of Evangelicals has released a lengthy new report, affirming that climate change is real and arguing that it is a particular threat for the world’s poor. The NAE says climate change is neither a “fictitious or far-off threat,” and says fighting against it must become part of the Christian Church’s obedience to biblical commands to love “the least of these.”

The 95-page report is titled Loving the Least of These and contrasts how quick Christians often are quick to give in the aftermath of a natural disaster versus how slow they have often been to take steps to prevent the types of disaster climate change causes. As the report puts it, “people need to see not only our witness in relief efforts after a disaster but also that we understand what causes natural disasters to be so terrible. They need to see not only that we will clean up after the disaster but also that, whenever possible, we will help prevent situations that displace millions.”

The report argues that climate change is currently making it harder to care for the poor, displacing unprecedented millions and increasing the amount of resources needed to care for those in poverty.

The report is notable for its audience. In the United States, White evangelicals are the religious group least likely to believe that climate change is caused by human activity, with only 54 percent saying they believed so. By comparison, 72 percent of White nonevangelicals agreed along with 81 percent of Black Protestants. In 2021, Franklin Graham wrote that climate change was “nothing new.”

But in the report, the NAE is not only concerned about the reality of climate change, but its many victims, who are often already living in poverty. They argue that you don’t have to believe the science — you can just look at the headlines and see the record numbers being forced to flee their homes or grapple with other terrors of a rapidly changing environment. “For too many in this world, the beach isn’t about sunscreen and bodysurfing but is a daily reminder of rising tides and failed fishing,” as NAE President Walter Kim writes in the introduction. “Instead of a gulp of fresh air from a lush forest, too many children take a deep breath only to gasp with the toxic air that has irritated their lungs.”

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The report urges Christians to face the future with the hope that comes from obedience to God’s call to protect those in trouble.

“The story that science and experience are telling us about the Earth’s climate is one that impacts vulnerable people around the world the most,” the report concludes. “The threats we face are real, and the needs can feel overwhelming. We know that God is at work in our world, accomplishing his purposes. We follow the One who calmed the stormy seas, the One who conquered sin and death. We approach the future not with fear but with confidence and hope.”

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