Most Religious Believers Favor International Efforts To Curb Climate Change, Nuclear Risks, Poverty
December 12th, 2011
A majority of Americans professing a belief in God, favor cooperative international efforts to combat climate change, environmental degradation, and the spread of nuclear weapons – branding them a moral obligation – says a new public opinion poll conducted jointly by the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and its Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).
The nearly 1,500 Americans surveyed include large numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals. The study, Faith and Global Policy Challenges: How Spiritual Values Shape Views on Poverty, Nuclear Risks, and Environmental Degradation, also finds that a majority of “believers” consider addressing global poverty a “spiritual obligation,” and think that the United States should work cooperatively with other nations to reduce it.
“This research challenges common political stereotypes that pigeonhole religious Americans as liberal or conservative on environmental and nuclear proliferation issues,” says University of Maryland Public Policy Professor and study co-author John Steinbruner, who directs CISSM.
“These findings demonstrate the public’s strong moral impulse to address global policy challenges — an impulse that if applied properly could break the current impasse on these issues,” Steinbruner adds.
Though most believers in the study do not consider addressing environmental and nuclear risks to be spiritual obligations, they do understand these issues as a part of “good stewardship,” the study finds.
“While for many believers there is a tenuous connection between their spiritual values and issues related to the environment and the risk of nuclear war, they are nonetheless very responsive to the idea that there is an obligation to protect God’s creation, or to be good stewards of the earth,” explains study co-author Steven Kull, director of PIPA.