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Over 300 Swiss Christians gather to reflect on faith and sustainable behaviour

“Christian faith is a motivating factor for social justice commitment”, says a study published by StopPoverty and Interaction.

FUENTES Swiss Evangelical Alliance AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus BIEL 16 DE ABRIL DE 2024 12:56 h
Over 300 people gathered in the Swiss city of Biel for the 15th conference of the StopPoverty association. / [link]RES[/link]

Over 300 people gathered in the Swiss city of Biel/Bienne for the 15th conference of the StopPoverty association.

The main event of the conference was the presentation of the results of its study, carried out along with Christian organisation Interaction, on whether faith influences the behavior of Christians in terms of sustainable behavior.

The research team invested more than three years in the study, interviewing over 2,500 people in Switzerland and Germany (1,574 in Germany, 782 in German-speaking Switzerland and 205 in French-speaking Switzerland), “for whom faith plays a role in everyday life”.

One of the coordinators in Switzerland, Salomé Richir-Haldemann, said they “wanted to find out how Christians position themselves in relation to the issues we have been raising awareness of for 20 years”.

"Secondly, the results should also be an encouragement to persevere for a just and sustainable future. Finally, the data will also be used to defend political points of view, for example in development cooperation”, she added.


Social justice and sustainability

According to the conclusions, “Christian faith is a motivating factor for social justice commitment”.

The two questions “Does the Christian faith encourage you to commit to social justice?” and “Should the Church commit to sustainability?” received 90% or more positive responses.

However, a majority of respondents admitted that they do not always act accordingly in their daily lives. “That dichotomy is evident”, the researchers conclude.

When it comes to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (known as SDGs), around half of those surveyed were familiar with them, and a third had not only heard of them, but were also able to explain them.

“That figure is much higher than the figure for the Swiss population as a whole”, pointed out during the conference Tobias Faix, director of the Justice and Sustainability study and professor of practical theology.


Moderate concerns about climate change

The study also shows that the concerns about climate change of the Christians surveyed “are moderate”.

“Either faith reduces concern, or there is little interest in the issue”, explained Faix.

He also underlined that young Christians are no more concerned about climate change than their elders, and that “individual behaviour such as recycling, energy saving, and consumption are seen as more important than social commitment”.


The Knowledge-Action Gap

The president of the Swiss National Council, Eric Nussbaumer, also participated in the conference. In his opening speech, he drew attention to the importance of filling the gap between “what we know” and “what we do”, the so called Knowledge-Action Gap.

For Nussbaumer, the gap between knowledge and action could be partly filled by legal provisions and financial incentives, but “little has been done so far”.

“Our consumption habits play a role here. It takes energy and commitment to do something about it, but the Knowledge-Action-Gap gives hope”, says Nussbaumer.

He encouraged the audience to align their behaviour with their values, particularly in terms of sustainability and ecology, because “a gap that is recognised can also be closed”.

“There is no lack of goodwill, as the survey has shown. I hope that the study will help to bridge the gap between knowledge and action”, he concluded.


In-depth discussion

The results of the study and its importance for the church were discussed at length by the participants during the morning session of the conference. According to the organisers, a number of them criticised the lack of representation of certain demographics.

In the afternoon, there were short speeches of 7 minutes about a wide variety of topics.

Some of the speakers included Steve Tanner, president of the Christian environmental association A Rocha Suisse, and Christine Volet-Stercks, spokesperson for the Salvation Army and president of Christian Public Affairs, among others.


[title]One more year[/title]


[text]At Evangelical Focus, we have a sustainability challenge ahead. We invite you to join those across Europe and beyond who are committed with our mission. Together, we will ensure the continuity of Evangelical Focus and Protestante Digital (Spanish) in 2024.

Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).





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