Climate Change vs. Christianity


Alyssa Greco

Is climate change real and a threat?

Climate change is a sensitive subject in society, especially in the community of Westminster. Climate change is speculated to be one of the leading causes of the recent wildfires in California, which the governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a state emergency. These frequent wildfires are hurting California as a community, and the cause needs to be found and targeted. Some environmentalists may say that the reason is climate change. How should christians approach this worldview? Is climate change causing the state to go up in flames? Can Christians be both environmentalists and religious?


Christians believe as the descendants of Adam and Eve; it is their responsibility to be stewards of the earth. Numbers 33:35 states, “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” It is evident in the Bible that God wants his disciples to care for his creation and honor it. So why is this even an argument? 


Douglas Decelle, a blogger for his website, states: “Climate change is chocked full of ideas that clash with a traditional Christian worldview.  The most obvious is the idea that people may go extinct.  This is incompatible with the Bible’s view that a human person bears the image and likeness of God.”( the-cross-and-the-climate-crisis)


The issue with a Christian approach to climate change is concerned more with the conservative party of Christians. Conservative Christians can also be labeled as “Young earth creationists.” These people believe in the strict six-day creation from the book of Genesis, which scientists say defies all laws of nature. They take the word of the bible much more literally than other parts of the Christian church, making it difficult to expect the realities of science. Christians believe that The Lord will someday come again to judge all people on this worldly earth and be sent to heaven. On the contrary, environmentalists hold to the ideology that everyone will go extinct due to the issues of climate change and global warming. The ideas of eternal life in heaven with God and the idea that all entities will go extinct don’t exactly go hand and hand with one another. 


It is clear that between the strict ideas of Christianity and the progressiveness of science, there is a point of tension. Although, the main issue with Christianity and climate change is that it has all become highly politicized. It is stated in the Bible that Christians are placed on this earth to honor God, and part of that responsibility is to be stewards of the planet. All that being an environmentalist should entail is caring for the world as a home and raising awareness of the issues that climate change may present. 


The Christian Enquiry Agency says: “A growing environmental awareness supported by our knowledge of God’s love for the whole of his creation enables us to engage with the difficult challenge of lifestyles. The path may be long, but we each know we are not in this alone.” 


Once society can separate politics from ethical issues such as climate change, this will give an entirely different perspective. The wildfires in California are a prime example of the climate change problem, affecting the lives of many currently living in the heart of it. It is no longer a political matter but a matter of caring for the common good. Christians are called to look out for neighbors; California needs our love. 


Junior Biology teacher Genevieve Ralston currently has a lesson about the issues of Christianity and environmentalism built into her curriculum. “Maybe some tension is that others may think Christians are prioritizing a “temporary” place (Earth) rather than worrying about eternity. I think in some cases being an environmentalist is seen as linked to a political agenda as well (which can also hurt your witness as a Christian),” said Ralston. 


Once again, the common trope of politics creating tension is explained. Climate change has become more of a political agenda than anything else, leading Christians to shy away from the cause. Although she also states, “I think if we are put in the position to oversee care for the environment, that makes us environmentalists. Now, just like any other position within a group, this can be taken to an extreme. It can be prioritized and lead to division between people. I think if anything should divide you among people it should not be your stance on the environment, but your stance on salvation by Christ (and a life to model Christ),” said Ralston.


 Anyone taking care of the earth is an environmentalist, but all things can be taken to an extreme. Those who are self proclaimed tend to lean on the more radical side, which is why we do not see many christians come forward about these issues concerning climate change.


Citizens can do multiple things to help the issue of climate change slightly. These changes include cutbacks on flying and transportation in cars, and being more mindful of recycling. Small changes like these are not ones that everyone is willing to make, but there are other things as Christians. All  Christians have to do is be stewards of this earth and call others to do so. The stigma of being an environmentalist can slowly change from a political agenda to a Christian one by showing it is all about loving God’s creation.