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Dr. Dorothy Borse

25 November 2013
Dr. Dorothy Borse

American evangelicals beginning to link love of your neighbor and caring for the climate

Dr. Dorothy Boorse is Professor of Biology at Gordon College and a lead author of “Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment,” published by the National Association of Evangelicals as a “tool for the evangelical community in considering how to respond to the biblical mandates to care for creation and for the poor”.

She spoke at Climate Week in September 2013 on the role American evangelicals can play in addressing climate change.  

"I am both a scientist and a Christian and have been walking in that zone for quite some time.  [I’m] happy to report that although, in our discussion in society with evangelical Christians, often climate change has not been well accepted.  But worldwide they’re a standout from the rest of the evangelicals in countries around the world, where people are clearly seeing climate change already.

"I am happy to say that there are some changes in American evangelical culture as well.  And that perhaps the broad range of opinions that exist there have not been reported as widely as they could’ve been. 

"One of the biggest things that brings me hope is role of young people.  Throughout the country, young people are asking their churches to rise to the occasion and see the issues of the day, and respond to them.  They are requiring a relevancy that perhaps church leaders have not seen – asked for – before. 

"One group that’s very heartening to me personally is Young Evangelicals for Climate Action with their leader, Ben Lowe, who is somebody that you ought to be following.  So I want to report in on that.

"But the biggest single thing that evangelicals who care about the natural world and its degradation – the biggest thing that they are doing is making a link between care of your neighbor, and care of the most poor and vulnerable among us, and the call in the Bible to care for others, and the ways in which environmental degradation harms the poor are so obvious to people today in a way that I think past generations may not have seen. 

"As a result, there’s, even structurally, some real improvements.  For example, the Lausanne movement made a call for ‘care of creation’ commitment document about a year ago.  And likewise, the Christian Reformed Church came out with a creation care task force report that named climate change as one of the big concerns of the day.  The National Association of Evangelicals put out a report, on which I was privileged to be one of the authors: Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment.

"So this link between care for others and love of your neighbor, and caring about the climate is beginning to percolate into the common conversation in the evangelical community. 

"One thing that has really helped in that regard has been better communication between science communities and faith communities generally.  As a member of both of those, I have to say that sometimes that conversation has been fairly tense. 

"But, fortunately, scientists are reaching out.  And several professional societies have formed special ‘science speakers bureaus’ to faith communities, like my own home society, the Ecological Society of America, through their environmental justice section.

"And, within the evangelical community, there have been scientists raising their voices together.  Some of you may have seen the July letter from 200 evangelical scientists to Congress calling on climate action.

"So I’m happy to report that there are some places where there’s a coming together on this dialogue.  And I’m hopeful as we move forward, because many people of faith, evangelicals included, are a people of hope, people of action, and people that want to do what they see as morally right in the world.”

Watch the speech recorded live at Climate Week NYC:

Watch on YouTube

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