Beliefs Ethics Politics

Ted Cruz, you might want to listen to evangelicals on climate change (COMMENTARY)

A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wears a Cruz t-shirt at his Iowa caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian C. Frank
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wears a Cruz t-shirt at his Iowa caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian C. Frank

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wears a Cruz T-shirt at his Iowa caucus night rally in Des Moines on Feb. 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian C. Frank *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-TAYLOR-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Feb. 2, 2016.

(RNS) Now that Ted Cruz has won Iowa’s Republican presidential caucus, he may want to listen more closely to those evangelicals who supported him on the subject of climate change.

Just last month, the Texas senator, who chairs the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, proudly claimed, “According to the satellite data, there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years.”

In fact, the evidence clearly shows that 14 of the 15 warmest years ever recorded all happened since the year 2000. And 2015 was the hottest on record in human history.

The relationship between the burning of fossil fuels and the rise in Earth’s temperature is no longer a matter of correlation. According to 97 percent of climate scientists, it’s a matter of causation.

That’s a fact as sure as smoking causes lung cancer.

Yet too often in the American political landscape the question is asked, “Do you believe in human-caused climate change?” — as if the issue were a matter of personal preference that bends to the will of politicians, not the laws of chemistry and physics.

Fortunately, many evangelicals are ahead of Cruz on this issue. And here’s to hoping they can convince Cruz and other climate change skeptics of the scientific consensus.

READ: 5 faith facts about Ted Cruz: It’s all about God’s work

One key strategy is to stress values.

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric research scientist at Texas Tech University and a contributor to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, knows that when appealing to climate-change skeptics “facts are not enough.”

She should know.

Hayhoe is also a pastor’s wife, and because of her role as a climate scientist and born-again Christian, she often gives talks to evangelical Christians. Hayhoe’s approach is to connect with shared values, before laying out the specifics of climate science.

All people of goodwill care about the relationship between pollution and the health of their children, but evangelicals in particular are under a strong mandate to care for the least of these, as Jesus commanded.

By connecting to universally shared values and appealing to the authority of Scripture, Hayhoe repudiates arguments against climate action.

Brian Webb, who has studied the effectiveness of her talks, says her approach appears to be working.

Webb is the founder of Climate Caretakers, a Christian campaign aimed at mobilizing U.S. evangelicals to pray and act on climate change as part of a faithful Christian lifestyle.

American evangelicals play a critical role in the fight against climate change.

“The United States is the only industrialized country in the world where denial of climate change has become inextricably linked to a dominant political party. And evangelicals form the most solid foundation for this party,” Webb says.

Webb believes that responding to climate change is inherently a Christian act, just as caring for God’s creation and loving our neighbors. He also believes that mobilizing American evangelicals for climate action can be a game-changer for the world.

Thankfully, people like Hayhoe and Webb are starting to get some help from the top.

Not only is the World Evangelical Alliance under the leadership of Bishop Efraim M. Tendero passionately on board; the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 local churches from nearly 40 different denominations and serves a constituency of millions, has also signed on.

In October, the NAE officially passed a resolution affirming the Lausanne Cape Town Commitment of 2010. This global evangelical statement affirms, among other things, the need for Christians to adopt lifestyles that renounce habits of consumption that are destructive or polluting and to recognize the calling of Christians who engage in the protection and restoration of the Earth’s habitats and species through conservation and advocacy.

READ: Act now, for God’s sake, faith voices urge Paris climate conference

Aaron Daniel Taylor is the producer of We Know Not What We Do, a spiritual and artistic documentary examining climate change from a moral perspective. Photo courtesy of Aaron Daniel Taylor

Aaron Daniel Taylor is the producer of “We Know Not What We Do,” a spiritual and artistic documentary examining climate change from a moral perspective. Photo courtesy of Aaron Daniel Taylor

As the heat-record-shattering year 2015 came to a close, the world came together in Paris to hash out an agreement to signal the end of the fossil fuel era. It was a good start, but now the real work begins.

It’s heartening to see my evangelical brothers and sisters embracing climate action. Faith in Jesus and caring for the environment should go hand in hand.

As a candidate for president whose base rests with evangelical voters, Cruz may want to listen to the heartfelt pleas of his most devoted constituency. When it comes to climate change, they have something to tell him.

(Aaron Daniel Taylor is the producer of “We Know Not What We Do,” a spiritual and artistic documentary examining climate change from a moral perspective)

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Aaron Daniel Taylor


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  • Mr. Cruz is simply repeating things his largest campaign donors say. They’re fossil fuel investors and they’re just protecting their profits. Those profits will dry up as the world moves to safe energy sources. Mr. Cruz most likely does not know the things he repeats about climate science are essentially lies. He does not know that the president of the company (Carl Mears of Remote Sensing Systems) that produces the “satellite data” (from NASA satellites) thet he relies on says the surface temperature record is more accurate. See here:
    It makes me sad the fossil fuel investors exploit evangelicals. It makes me proud that evangelicals like Kathy Hayhoe and Aaron Daniel Taylor are working so hard to set the record straight!

  • If we Evangelicals hope to move our nation in the direction of addressing climate change, we can’t possibly vote for those who deny it especially when such deniers formulate economic policies that ignore climate change for the sake of profits. IMO, money controls Cruz’s views on climate change. And that is because our economic policies would have to change radically to address needs like growth and wealth disparity with cliamte change

  • What your comment also exhibits is one of the few positives (sometimes the same characteristic can be a negative) about religious groups such as your Evangelicals. They can, for the most part, be swayed as a group, like a flock of sheep. Their particular delusion such as the Jesus one doesn’t matter that much; they might as well all believe in the Great Pumpkin (actually more believable than the Jesus stuff). The point is, you can get them mostly all supporting the same thing.

    Politicians of course know this, and Cruz et al are pretty good at exploiting religion to get support. This time, though, it might actually work against Cruz, which would be a good thing.

  • It’s perplexing to me that evangelicals are “under a strong mandate to care for the least of these,” yet flock to Ted Cruz, who has seldom demonstrated any impulse to do the same.

  • Climatologists never use the data collected by other scientists: specifically ice core samples that show during the Minoan and Roman warming periods when the earth was much, much warmer. Examining the past 50,000 years, ice cores show that for the past few hundred years the earth has been in an ice age. I believe it’s going to get hot, but man has little to do with it. Unless we find some ancient SUVs or air conditioning units.

  • King Solomon famously feigned chopping a baby in two, yet I know he went to heaven. And I know Ben Franklin said the poor should not be made comfortable in poverty, but rather driven out of it. I would not equate disagreeing with the way you might handle a situation as uncaring. Cruz has created an awful lot of jobs for his constituents. Another man might have thrown a welfare check (which is poverty wages).

    2 Thessalonians 3:10
    10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

  • I would love to see the writer have a debate with Cruz on “climate change.”

    I’m not a big fan of Cruz, and am wary about him for other reasons, but he would eat this guy for breakfast.

    When Cruz got through with Aaron Taylor, he’d be staggering off the stage like some punch-drunk boxer.

    Don’t you just love it when liberal evangelicals from places like Hickadoodle Yahoo College in the middle of nowhere think they know more than conservative evangelicals from places like Princeton and Harvard?

    It’s uproariously funny.

  • The absolute hysteria over “climate change” shows the power of conformity over the willingness to think hard and critically.

    Everybody forgets that a decade ago at about this time, Al Gore and friends were warning that the world had “ten years” until worldwide environmental Armageddon would happen due to “global warming.”

    Here we are, and no such thing has happened…..just more fear-mongering and nobody holding the fear-mongering activists responsible for their utterly blown predictions.

  • Jack, if in your opinion Harvard and Princeton are turning out “geniuses” these days, I fear for your own sanity.

    Not surprised however, roughly half of evangelicals in America these days appear to be off their rockers.

    Don’t believe the hoax of “global” warming and don’t believe ivy league educations add much more to society than increased student debt.

  • Ted Cruz hopefully soon will be looking to the esteemed scientists at his first alma matter (and elsewhere) for their input on the climate change issue.

    Ted is a brilliant debater, but he needs to learn some of the background material that the experts here have to offer
    Their News page contains some articles that are good even for a layperson to start from on the subject.

  • Cruz might want to listen to the much more accomplished evangelical climate scientists who disagree, like NASA award-winning climatologists Dr. John Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer of U. Alabama, or Dr. David Legates of U. Delaware, or Dr. Neil Frank, former Director, National Hurricane Center, or the 6 other evangelical climate scientists who signed “An Open Letter on Climate Change” ( opposing belief in DANGEROUS, MANMADE global warming and the spending of $Trillions to reduce CO2 emissions that could better be spent curing disease, fighting hunger, and ending poverty in the developing world, none of whom is funded by the fossil fuel industry. Many evangelical climate scientists also were authors or reviewers of “A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: The Case against Harmful Climate Policies Gets Stronger” (