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Religious Americans less likely to be concerned about climate change, survey finds – CBS News

While a majority of Americans agree that climate change is a serious problem, a new survey found that those who identify as highly religious are less likely to be as concerned about the issue.

The poll, released by the Pew Research Center Thursday, surveyed U.S. adults to find out how their religious beliefs impact their views on the environment. The survey of 10,156 adults was conducted between April 11-17. While most respondents said they considered the Earth “sacred,” some groups did not view climate change as a serious problem.

“Most U.S. adults — including a solid majority of Christians and large numbers of people who identify with other religious traditions — consider the Earth sacred and believe God gave humans a duty to care for it,” the study found.

Those surveyed who said “they pray each day, regularly attend religious services and consider religion very important in their lives,” were much less likely to be concerned about rising temperatures, in comparison to non-religious Americans, or Americans of non-Christian religions, Pew found. And only 8% of those who identified as highly religious said they were “very concerned” about climate change.

ClimateWatch: The dramatic effects of climate change from coast to coast 22:17

The report found that “evangelical Protestants tend to be the most likely of all major U.S. religious groups to express skeptical views” — about a third of evangelical Protestants surveyed felt unsure, or were unconvinced, that the Earth is getting warmer.

On the other hand, the study found that “members of non-Christian religions and people who do not identify with any religion…consistently express the highest levels of concern about climate change.” Nine in 10 atheists surveyed said the Earth is getting warmer, mostly due to human activity.

People of other Christian subgroups, such as Catholics, fell somewhere in between both extremes, according to Pew.

There are a few reasons the different groups have developed varying opinions, Pew found — the main one being politics. Evangelical Protestants surveyed largely identified as Republicans, Pew said, and were “less likely than the overall public to say the Earth’s warming is mostly caused by human activity.” 

Those surveyed who identified as atheists, non-religious Americans and from non-Christian religions were mostly Democrats “who tend to be much more alarmed about climate change and supportive of government actions to combat it,” the study found.

Those who identified as highly religious said they weren’t as worried about climate change because “there are much bigger problems in the world today, God is in control of the climate, climate change will not have a big impact on most people,” and “new technologies will fix any problems caused by climate change.”

Pew also found that they were concerned about “potential consequences of environmental regulations.” Christians and Protestants surveyed said that the U.S. is likely to overreact to global climate change with strict regulations which could “cost too many jobs” or hurt the economy.

Another reason religious Americans could be less concerned about global warming is because it is an issue rarely touched on in religious services, Pew said.

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