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French Protestants interested in creation care but some see environmentalism as a “new religion”

A “first of its kind” survey conducted in France shows that evangelicals are more interested in environmental care than the average population.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus PARIS 07 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2023 16:51 h
A climate march in France. / Photo: [link]H. Moore[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

Faithful Christians are more interested in reflecting about how to care for the planet than the average population, a recent survey in France found.

Nine in ten committed Protestant Christians have spoken about the degradation of the environment with family members and friends, and 56% have had conversations online addressing this issue. This awareness about climate change and other ecological issues is significantly higher than among other citizens, shows research conducted in spring 2023 by the agency Ifop in the name of the Christian conservationist NGO A Rocha and Parlons Climat, a programme to discuss the climate crisis in society.

This survey is a first of its kind as it specifically analyses the opinions of practicing (in French, practiquants) Catholics and Protestants, of which more than half identified as evangelical Christians.


Practising Protestants more engaged than others

One in four (24%) Protestants surveyed said they have at some point attended a demonstration to protect the environment and natural resources in their region while 21% have joined a ‘march for the climate’. Over 75% of these Protestants support such public demonstrations. This engagement is three times higher than that of the rest of French society (7% joined local initiatives and 6% joined a climate march), according to Ifop.

[photo_footer] Data and graph of the survey conducted by Ifop for A Rocha and Parlons Climat, June 2023. [/photo_footer] 

Moreover, Protestants are also more prone to say “I would like do more regarding the degradation of the environment” than others (82% vs 75%).


Questions in the climate change conversation

Despite this engagement in protecting the environment, Protestant seem to be more diverse in their views on certain issues. Although most believe that climate change “is mainly caused by human action” (63%), another 21% responded that “it is mainly a natural phenomenon”, and 13% said “it is not possible to know its origin”.

[photo_footer] Data and graph of the survey conducted by Ifop for A Rocha and Parlons Climat, June 2023. [/photo_footer] 

Eight in ten committed Protestants in France believe “we must dramatically change our lifestyle” to fight climate change and other environmental issues, but 49% say they do not know how to do it in practice. 6 in 10 hope “technological progress” will help have a more sustainable world.


Is it a gospel matter?

Asked about their faith communities, the Ifop survey found that more Protestants (58%) than practising Roman Catholics (52%) want their church to speak more about environmental issues and ecology.

But it is among Protestant where there is also a larger minority (15%) that is categorically against speaking about the issue at church.

[photo_footer] Data and graph of the survey conducted by Ifop for A Rocha and Parlons Climat, June 2023. [/photo_footer] 

Despite considering the creation care a priority, 50% of Catholics and 47% of Protestants say they “don’t make the connection between my opinions and my spirituality”. Only 20% of Catholics and 27% of Protestants in the survey say their views about ecology and their faith inform each other.

Almost of all surveyed agreed that caring about the planet was also caring about their neighbours and over 70% agree that “the Bible contains many passages that call to preserve the environment”.

But exactly half of practising Protestants also said that “in the end of times, God will create a new earth, therefore it is a priority to save souls”. 44% said they agreed that environmentalism was becoming “a new religion that sacralises nature and denies the central place of humans in creation”.

Finally, 83% of the Catholics and 78% of the Protestants surveyed agree that “as Christians, we are the guardians of Creation and must do our utmost to look after it for ourselves and future generations”.


Better communicating environmental issues to Christians

The outcomes of the survey were presented in an online press conference.

“This type of survey, which is quite common in some countries such as the United States, is a first in France”, said Jean-François Mouhot, Director of A Rocha France.

The results “will allow to identify the levers for action and the points of resistance, to better communicate the importance of ecological and climate issues to the to the Christian public”.

In answers to Evangelical Focus, Mouhout admitted that despite most evangelical Christians in France have a positive view of creation care, there is also a need to show to those more sceptical that taking action to care about the planet is a biblical mandate, not a liberal political cause.





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