Thousands of young demonstrators swarmed Manhattan’s streets in September in advance of the U.N. General Assembly there, demanding an end to the use of fossil fuels. Elsa Barron, a 24-year-old Evangelical Christian seeking to improve her neighborhood, was one of them.
According to Barron, a climate research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security, a nonpartisan organization affiliated with the Council on Strategic Risks, she wants to persuade her church’s non-believers in climate change. 53% of Americans, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center study, believe that human activity is to blame for the planet’s warming, compared to 32% of Evangelical Christians. Only 45% of Christians and 50% of Catholics agreed that human activity is to blame for the planet’s warming, the lowest percentage of all of the religious groups examined. Evangelical Christians are typically the most skeptical sect when it comes to global warming.
According to Barron, “there’s a lot of emphasis on sort of God’s divine care for the world and his good plan for the world.” “But some people kind of take that and say… ‘If you think the world is at risk, then maybe you don’t have enough trust or faith in God.'”
Barron uses biblical quotations to reach out to her community in the most effective way she knows how. She intends to inspire peers in the church to take climate change seriously by using verses like Genesis 2:15, which states that “the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.”
In a society when decisions are made that directly affect people’s capacity to manage their crops, live in their homes around the world, or have access to food and water, what does loving our neighbors actually look like? said Barron.
Barron is not the only Evangelical Christian making an effort to change the world. Galen Carey, the National Association of Evangelicals’ vice president for government affairs, released a comprehensive report in November 2022 urging members to take action to slow or reverse climate change using biblical justification. Curry claimed that the politicization of the subject is what first sparked the Evangelical skepticism about climate change. Evangelical Christians were among the first to voice worries about environmental deterioration in the 1970s, but by doubting climate science in the 1990s, political conservatives started to prioritize economic expansion over environmental issues.
Curry responded, “Well, very tragically, this whole topic has been politicized in a way that is not helpful. And they assert that if I am a conservative, Republican, or anything else, I must be against this stuff. Unfortunately, I believe that’s where the problem has many folks tangled up. But the Bible is still available. Nothing has changed. We therefore keep reminding them of that.
Because she had personal experience with it, Barron claims she can appreciate the skepticism. She said she was referred to as the “Creation Girl” growing up in Wheaton, Illinois, where Evangelical Christianity is deeply ingrained, because of her fervent convictions and literal reading of the Bible.
In order to work at the Center for Climate and Security, Barron now resides in Washington, D.C. “I was starting to really see the evidence behind things like evolution or even climate change,” he stated. Do I stay or do I go? I wasn’t sure if I should go find a faith group that was more in line with my ideals, so I was in a state of crisis over whether I could still hang on to my faith at all. That was a major turning point for me as I tried to stand my ground and have the difficult conversations I believe would lead to the necessary change.
According to Barron, her convictions and attempts to alter the attitudes of the church from the inside have generated some conflict with her friends and family, including her own. While he acknowledges the need to protect the environment, her father is skeptical of what causes extreme weather. She claimed that all she does is “keep opening spaces for conversation to happen” and strives to meet those who disagree with her message with respect and compassion.
We have several options for resolving this situation, she continued.