Many younger evangelical Christians today -- especially those known as "emergents" -- are troubled by the reduction of their movement's moral vision to nothing but the issues of abortion and gay marriage. For these young people, a more expansive frame of reference is emerging, which among other things includes concern for the environment, particularly global warming.
These younger evangelicals reflect a wider trend in our culture. Harvard University's Institute of Politics recently released a poll that concludes that many college and university students today are religious centrists. They don't fit neatly into traditional political party classifications. The study contends that these religious centrists will likely be the most influential group in American politics for years to come. Republican and Democratic candidates alike risk losing out if they don't take these religious centrists seriously.
Religious centrists vote their morals, which include environmental stewardship. Politicians should not assume that championing traditionally conservative stances on abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage will attract the young evangelical vote. While some evangelical leaders have raised doubts about global warming and initiatives to reduce it -- even appealing to science in their arguments -- their young evangelical critics often wonder if such leaders actually care about the breadth of creation. For these critics, the question is not, "Does global warming exist?" The questions are, "What are the causes -- human, nonhuman or both -- and what are the long-term risks if global warming continues unabated?"
The environment - care of creative - ought to be an issue beyond partisan politics for Christians. Even the conservative Southern Baptist press hailed Al Gore's recent movie - despite their political views.
Too bad the president, majority party in Congress and the political leaders of the Religious Right aren't getting the message.