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U.S. Reps, People of Faith Want Action on Climate Change to Prioritize Most Vulnerable

May 5, 2009, 2:59 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

New Poll Finds Strong Support among Evangelicals, Catholics

New Radio Ads and Email Campaign to Press Message in Key Districts

See poll results here.

Read ad script here.

(WASHINGTON) – As climate bill negotiations reach their apex this week, Members of Congress, religious and military leaders are intensifying their efforts to ensure the legislation prioritizes the most vulnerable at home and abroad. Bolstered by the results of a new national poll that shows strong support among key religious groups for action on climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable, U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler and Tom Perriello joined religious and military leaders today to discuss the importance of these principles and announce a new radio and email campaign that will press this message in key districts across America.

“The energy bill provides us with the unique opportunity of answering the call to be good stewards of creation in a way that will not only create jobs and make our nation safer, but will also allow us to care for the least of these among us,” said Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC). “It is not often that Congress has the ability to accomplish all of this in one bill, and I am grateful for the strong support from my fellow Members for this effort and the ability to work alongside leaders in the faith and military communities to ensure that these values are reflected in the final energy bill.”

“Addressing climate change is not just a matter of national security and sound economic policy, but a moral duty to care for God’s creation and to care for the needs of those who are contributing the least to climate change but bearing the brunt of its burden,” said Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA). “We need to ensure that this legislation fairly addresses the burden on low- and middle-income families, especially at a time when millions of Americans are out of work.”

According to the new national survey, sponsored by Faith in Public Life and Oxfam America and conducted by Public Religion Research:

• Majorities of Americans, including majorities of Catholics and Evangelicals, believe dealing with climate change now will create new jobs and help avoid more serious economic problems in the future.

• Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans and similar numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals agree that climate change is making it harder for the world’s poorest people to support their families.

• Approximately three-quarters of the general public and similar numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals favor helping the world’s poorest people adapt to food and water shortages caused by rising global temperatures.

The new media campaign includes ads on Christian radio at saturation levels in key districts in GA, FL, NC, MS, AL, LA, VA, OH and emails to over 5.3 million evangelicals and Catholics in GA, FL, AL, and NC. The campaign is designed to encourage undecided Members to support a climate bill that protects the most vulnerable and to demonstrate that the faith and military communities will stand behind them. It is sponsored by the American Values Network, a faith-based 501c4 founded to help amplify the positive voice of faithful Americans.

Specifically, members of Congress are pushing for the bill to include: direct rebates to help offset increased energy costs for the most affected vulnerable people and communities and to encourage spending on energy efficiency, as well as sufficient international adaptation funding to ensure that the most vulnerable populations in developing countries have the resources they need to proactively adapt to climate change.

Religious groups have long have been committed to ensuring that legislation pays special attention to the needs of vulnerable communities at home and abroad who will be most affected by climate change. They have also consistently pressed Congress to prioritize the needs of at-risk populations who will have the most difficulty adjusting to our attempts as a nation to combat climate change. The groups include the Evangelical Climate Initiative, Southern Baptist Environmental Climate Initiative, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Episcopal Church, and Redeem the Vote.

“This important new poll confirms what I have seen in my own congregation and across the country — people of faith are ready to address climate change and deal with its full range of effects, including its disproportionate impact on the poor,” said Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of the 10,000-member Northland, A Church Distributed. Rev. Hunter is also the voice of the campaign’s radio ads.

Military groups — including The Truman Project, Vet PAC, and Veterans Green Jobs – also support addressing the needs of those who are most impacted by climate change worldwide because they recognize the national security implications of the issue.

“Threats to nations and our world economies do not always originate with our enemies,” said Rear Admiral Stuart Franklin Platt, USN Ret, a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran, with over 20 medals for military sea and combat service. “Global climate change is one of the greatest threats to our national security both because it literally threatens the very planet we inhabit and because the droughts, famine, and floods it creates threaten to destabilize regions around the world.”

“This new poll shows that a majority of Americans, including people of faith such as Catholics and evangelicals, support addressing climate change even in our challenging current economic conditions. This is not only about caring for the environment but about assisting the poor, who are affected by these changes,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research.

Results of the survey were based on telephone interviews with 1,200 adults 18 years of age and older and an over sample of 250 white evangelical Protestants and 252 Catholics. The survey was conducted from March 20 to March 27, 2009. The margin of error for the national sample is +/- 3.0% at the 95% confidence interval. The national sample of adults was interviewed using random digit dial process.

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