Southern Baptist leaders back climate change resolution

Earlier this week, the Pope announced that pollution was a sin. Amid the fanfare regarding that announcement was a related headline: a group of 44 Southern Baptist leaders have signed a document that acknowledges the recklessness of ignoring the mounting evidence for climate change. Jonathan Merritt, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative, was quoted in the New York Times as having had an epiphany in which he realized " when we destroy God’s creation, it’s similar to ripping pages from the Bible.”

Forty-four church leaders signed the document, including the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and two past presidents. It's considered a departure for the denomination, and many other Southern Baptists leaders elected not to sign on.

But Merritt's initiative may signal the growing influence of younger members of the church, according to the story:

A 2007 resolution passed by the convention hewed to a more skeptical view of global warming.

In contrast, the new declaration ... states, “Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed.”

The document also urges ministers to preach more about the environment and for all Baptists to keep an open mind about considering environmental policy.

Jonathan Merritt, the spokesman for the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative and a seminarian at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., said the declaration was a call to Christians to return to a biblical mandate to guard the world God created.

The Southern Baptist signatories join a growing community of evangelicals pushing for more action among believers, industry and politicians. Experts on the Southern Baptist Convention noted the initiative marked the growing influence of younger leaders on the discussions in the Southern Baptist Convention.

While those younger Baptists remain committed to fight abortion, for instance, the environment is now a top priority, too.

The complete story is here.

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