Social science perspectives on ecology and religion: Implications for environmental justice and ecology
Religion and politics are notoriously contentious subjects. Studies examining the determinants of environmental attitudes have traditionally struggled to disentangle the overlapping factors of religion and politics. Although, environmental concern has become the moral domain of liberals, this has not always been the case. There is increasing evidence that depending on how environmental concern is measured, and framed, the large partisan divide seen on environmental issues can be mitigated. In this paper we unpack environmental concern and partisanship through survey experiments on diverse religious populations. We test various moral and religious framing that pulls upon religious traditions of environmental stewardship, examine differences between politically contentious and non-contentious issues, and well as priming respondents with support for environmental issues from a moral authority in their denomination. Results from a mail survey of a simple random sample of Ohio residents, as well as targeted email survey responses to religious organizations will be presented.
Email surveys allow us to test denominationally specific frames. For example, Catholics respondents are primed with information about the Papal Encyclical on environmental issues. Survey results presented will examine how framing environmental issues as a concern to a moral authority of the religious denomination mitigates the gap in partisanship around environmental issues. Denominationally targeted surveys have also allowed us to compare how standard measures of environmental concern (such as biocentric, anthropocentric and new environmental paradigm) change when they are framed using faith traditions of environmental stewardship. We examine how such framing affects the partisanship gap on politically contentious environmental issues and shifts acceptance of scientific information.