What is the Meaning of Greening? Cultural Analysis of a Southern Baptist Environmental Text
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© 2016 Taylor & Francis. Abstract: Scholars and journalists alike interpreted “A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change”, a document released in 2008 by a group of American Southern Baptists, as evidence that American evangelicals were becoming increasingly concerned about the environment. Using the tools of textual analysis, I show that this was not the only interpretation of the document at play. While journalists and scholars understood the Declaration as addressing the need to halt climate change, for a group of key Southern Baptist signatories, the document expressed a need for Southern Baptists to engage more actively in the public environmental discourse, lest they relinquish this domain to secular and liberal voices. Critically, the latter group viewed the Declaration as compatible with climate scepticism. My analysis shows how cultural context informs climate change attitudes, while also suggesting socio-historical factors—particularly evangelicals’ embattled mentality—that may support climate change scepticism in Southern Baptist circles.
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