For years, Hescox said he has been trying to rally support among evangelicals “to see pro-life is not just about abortion. It’s about all of life.” Like how working to improve air quality in a poor neighborhood would improve the health of children and the unborn there, he said. But often, he said, faith community members don’t connect with the way that progressives try to explain climate change concerns — worrying about melting polar ice caps doesn’t resonate with many conservative evangelical voters, he said.
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to voice their opposition after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that rolled back many climate-change policies, in Washington, March 28, 2017. In April, scientists and science advocates are expected to fill the streets for the March for Science, a rally in support of scientific research, which many feel has increasingly come under attack during the Trump administration.
Many evangelical Christians believe that stewardship of the Earth and taking care of the poor and sick are core to their faith.
Yet roughly 8 in 10 voted for Donald Trump, who as president has proposed cutting the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the National Institutes of Health by 18.3 percent and isn’t sure if he wants the United States to participate in the Paris climate change accord.
That politics-science-faith disconnect is one of many threads running through the March for Science events to take place Saturday in more than 500 cities around the world, including San Francisco, San Jose and Livermore, with the main event in Washington, D.C. Organizers say 13,500 people have signed up to attend the San Francisco march and science fair, while an additional 17,000 have expressed interest in attending through social media channels.
The rallies are intended to be “political but not partisan,” said Kristen Ratan, the lead organizer for the San Francisco march. The goal of Saturday’s events is to highlight concerns that “science is not being supported,” said Ratan, who added that cuts to the NIH jeopardize “research on cancer, diabetes and childhood diseases.” If federal funding is cut, Ratan said, critical research could be lost.
“It is one of the alarm bells that are ringing,” she said.
When it comes to science, President Trump appears to be out of touch with many of his voters, evangelical or not.
While the president has referred to climate change as a “hoax” perpetrated by China, 49 percent of Trump voters think global warming is real, while 30 percent do not, according to a post-election survey of registered voters in November by Yale and George Mason universities. And nearly half of Trump voters said the U.S. should participate in international agreements to limit global warming, compared with 28 percent who said it should not, according to the study.
In November, there was another message that resonated even more loudly than science with evangelical voters.
“Most evangelicals voted for Trump for one reason and one reason only: The promise to put someone on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network — which claims 80 organizations and 3 million pro-life Christians as members. A contingent from the organization will march in Washington on Saturday behind the banner: “Climate science: It’s a matter of life.”
Read another article on this topic: The March for Science Is Willing to Get Political. But Will It Welcome Religion?
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