This morning, scientific and evangelical leaders announced a collaborative effort to protect our environment from anthropogenic threats.

“We dare to imagine a world in which science and religion cooperate, minimizing our differences about how Creation got started to work together to reverse its degradation,” Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, said at the announcement in Washington, D.C.

The coalition released a statement signed by 28 prominent evangelicals and scientists—including biologist Edward O. Wilson and climatologist James Hansen—that calls for a “fundamental change in values, lifestyles, and public policies required to address these worsening problems before it is too late.” The coalition sent the statement, titled an “Urgent Call to Action,” to George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, congressional leaders, and national evangelical and scientific organizations.

Members of the alliance announced they would meet with bipartisan congressional leaders, encouraging them to take on environmental issues. The coalition also said it would hold a joint summit on the environment and create outreach tools, including an ‘environmental bible’ and informational packets for pastors.

Carl Safina, president of the conservation organization Blue Ocean Institute, said he thought the new alliance would give both scientists and evangelicals more power to effect change.

“Without a direct connection to the science side and dialogue with the science side, [evangelical leaders] don’t have the full, up-to-date information. And without them, the scientists don’t have the ability to reach into communities and have an effective public voice,” he said. “This makes me not only optimistic but very excited that we’re doing something new and very constructive.”

The announcement came after days of meetings in Georgia, where leaders of both communities presented their concerns about the environment.

Cheryl Johns, a professor of Christian Formation and Discipleship at the Church of God Theological Seminary, said that while the coalition is an “unlikely alliance,” the two groups came together over their common environmental worries.

“The issues are of such magnitude that they became the shared, galvanizing passion,” she said.

The particular evangelical leaders involved in the alliance have had a major influence on US policy in the past, Safina said. He said that while he has disagreed with the evangelicals in the past, he hopes that a direct line of communication between scientists and people of faith will lead to productive action to protect the environment. Johns agreed.

“We’re hoping that it will become a facilitator for other collaborations,” she said. “I think this is maybe a sign of what can be very common. I would hope so.”

Originally published January 17, 2007

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