What would Jesus do? Quite possibly, recycle

Fundamentalist Christians tap into their willingness to sacrifice to conserve water and energy, shop environmentally and protect the Earth, according to a Michigan State University (MSU) study.

A team of social scientists and sustainability scientists worked to peel off the layers of understanding about how Christianity and environmentalism mix. Their work is reported in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

The group worked off previous findings that indicate those with Christian fundamentalist religious orientation tend to be somewhat less pro-environmental than those with other or those who are not religious. That point of view is thought to be linked to the belief that the Bible asserts people's domination over nature.

But the team, in surveying 518 people in the United States, found indications that religion's emphasis on altruism— for a greater good—moved people to report they'd be willing to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth, bring their own shopping bags to the store and turn down the thermostat in cold months.

"In the United States, fundamentalist faith tends to be correlated with political conservatism, and at least since the Reagan administration, conservatives have been less concerned with the environment than liberals," said Thomas Dietz, University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Sociology and Animal Studies. "We find that fundamentalist Christians are actually more likely than others to enact pro-environmental behaviors once we take account of their political views. The effect of religious beliefs seems to act through higher levels of altruistic concerns with other species and the biosphere."

However, this willingness to sacrifice did not seem to extend to as it relates to protecting biodiversity.

"We hope that our findings encourage steps toward a more integrated theory of environmental decision-making and the design of common practices for pro-environmental behaviors," said Min Gon Chung, a Ph.D. candidate in MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). Dietz and co-author Jianguo "Jack" Liu also are CSIS members.

In addition to Dietz and Chung, "Activating values for encouraging pro-environmental behavior: The role of religious fundamentalism and willingness to sacrifice" was written by Hana Kang, Patricia Jaimes and Liu.

Explore further

Environmental concerns stronger among younger religious Americans

More information: Min Gon Chung et al, Activating values for encouraging pro-environmental behavior: the role of religious fundamentalism and willingness to sacrifice, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s13412-019-00562-z
Citation: What would Jesus do? Quite possibly, recycle (2019, September 23) retrieved 17 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-jesus-possibly-recycle.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 23, 2019
And they all drive to church.

Sep 23, 2019
Jesus saves... Wonder what kind of interest rate he's getting and at what bank...

Sep 23, 2019
I have a bucket of random parts, bolts, nuts, brackets, etc I keep in my garage that I named Jesus, and it's saved my ass more than once

Sep 23, 2019
As noted, fundamentalist faith and conservatism seem to be strongly linked in the US. So instead of the altruism and caring one might expect, we get the planet treated much in the same way as locusts treat fields. (Also an amazing amount of tribalistic mean spiritness.)

Sep 23, 2019
We all should return unto Caesar that which was Caesars.
Rather than turning the other cheek on wasteful packaging.
Otherwise there will be weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth.
And the sky will turn blood red as in Indonesia today:- https://www.bbc.c...49793047

Sep 24, 2019
Meanwhile they pawn off superstitious motivated sacrifice to get personal magical 'reward in afterlife', people in secular nations altruistically recycle for the social good.

Amazingly, this study was *not* financed by creationists. The up front recognition that religious extremists are less pro-environmental is the tip off.

Sep 24, 2019
Well, why should the religious bother with saving when they believe their Jesus would do it for them? No contradiction or hypocrisy there. Unlike the Greenies, however, who would drive miles, spewing CO2 all the way, to go protest Climate Change.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more