Baptists urge stronger climate stance
In a major shift, Southern Baptist leaders say their denomination has been “too timid” on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming.
The declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and others, is being released today. It shows a growing sense of urgency about climate change even within groups that once dismissed claims of an overheating planet as a liberal ruse.
The conservative denomination has more than 16 million members and is the largest Protestant group in the U.S.
The signers of “A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change” acknowledged that not all Christians accepted the science behind global warming. They said they did not expect fellow believers to back any proposed solutions that would violate Scripture, such as advocating population control through abortion.
However, the leaders said, current evidence of global warming is “substantial” and the threat is too grave to wait for perfect knowledge about whether, or how much, people contribute to the trend.
“Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed,” according to the statement. “We can do better.”
No one speaks on behalf of all Southern Baptists, who leave decision-making to local churches.
Yet the signatories represent some of the top figures in the convention. Besides the convention’s president, the Rev. Frank Page of South Carolina, they include two former presidents, the Rev. James Merritt of Georgia and the Rev. Jack Graham of Texas; and the Rev. Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas.
More than 35 people signed the statement. Supporters plan to collect more signatures via baptistcreationcare.org and to encourage congregations to advocate for environmental protection.