People protest against President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate agreement on June 1, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C. RNS photo by Jerome Socolovsky

Strong religious reaction to Trump climate accord decision

WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims and others reacted vigorously and emotionally to President Trump's announcement that he will withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

While leaders of the so-called religious left were overwhelmingly critical of the move, conservatives were somewhat divided.

Many who have welcomed other actions by the administration — such as the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the rolling back of contraceptive health insurance coverage — were deeply concerned about the impact of the decision, especially on the world's poor.

People protest against President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate agreement on June 1, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C. RNS photo by Jerome Socolovsky

Some others, however, skeptical of the science that the climate is actually changing or believing that God will take care of the planet, praised the withdrawal.

The following is a sampling of early reaction:

Patrick Carolan, executive director, Franciscan Action Network

"When large countries like the U.S. deny the reality of the climate crisis and pull out of commitments holding us accountable for doing our part to curb global temperature rise, we are turning our backs on the poor and vulnerable, which goes directly against our Franciscan-Christian values."

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, director of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Before the decision was announced, Sanchez Sorondo told the Italian daily La Repubblica: “If Donald Trump really decides to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord it will be a disaster for everyone."

At their historic meeting last week, Pope Francis gave Trump a copy of his 2015 encyclical, "Laudato Si’," which warns of the grave consequences caused by climate change, and the president said he promised to read it.

"If he really does (pull out), it would be a huge slap in the face for us," Sanchez Sorondo, who like the pope is from Argentina, said.

Asma Lateef, director, Bread for the World Institute

“The world will not be able to end hunger without addressing climate change. Unfortunately, President Trump’s actions today have made it that much more difficult to reach this goal.”

Robert Bank, president and CEO, American Jewish World Service

"We stand proudly as Jews who cherish the Earth to object in the strongest terms to the President's shortsighted and damaging decision. As American Jews, we will continue to raise our voices in solidarity with the people worldwide who have done the least to cause global warming but who suffer the most."

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

"We implore the Trump Administration to reverse this decision and advance policies that will provide for meaningful climate solutions, to both adapt to the effects of climate change, and to mitigate its effects for the future."

Bishop Oscar Cantú , chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace

"The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump's decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship."

Tomás Insua, executive director, Global Catholic Climate Movement

"Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a backward and immoral action. Catholics are saddened and outraged that Trump is not listening to Pope Francis after their meeting last week. Still, the world will continue to accelerate climate action, despite the White House's retrograde stance."

Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, national organizer and spokesperson, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

"We will continue to take hopeful action to address climate change and to love our neighbors both here and around the world. As we do, we reject your disdain for the well-being of those suffering from the impacts of a changing climate. We bear witness to your moral failure, and we will not forget it.”

Parliament of the World’s Religions

"The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective. Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible. Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future. ... Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death. Politically, it undermines the United States' credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security."

People protest against President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate agreement on June 1, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C. RNS photo by Jerome Socolovsky


  1. People disagree on things. But the fact is that the Global Warming Gig essentially relies on boosting the price of fossil-fuels so high that people can’t afford it — even though low-and fixed-income Americans can only afford fossil-fuels.

    Poor people drive their fossil-fuel used-cars, NOT the fancy hybrids, to school and doctor appointments. Need gas cheaply. They ride to work or grocery store on city buses that do NOT use solar or wind power.

    They can afford (mostly,) to pay for their heat and light IF the price is low enough, as with fossil-fuel. They know that the price of food IS linked to transportation costs — so if the fuel price rise, the food price rise.

    But the global warming religionists don’t talk about how they’re going to help out the poor on these things.

  2. God is the spirit of truth.

    …it has to be subsidized.

    …and to think, we acquired the knowledge to do away with oil in the 80’s, implemented in the 90’s… we are being forced to stay on oil.

    Same with your home. It can be energized by the sun, easily!

    Betrayal is their foundation! Period.

    Imagine how far behind humanity is b/c of this trash!!

    Evil is real!

  3. Hybrids are becoming the norm for cars within a generation. Many cities use natural gas powered buses. Oil heat is wildly unpopular and it’s costs are damaging to working class homeowners.

    Coal is dead as a viable energy source and one of the worst hazards to the public in its use. Clean coal as touted by conservatives is a myth.

    Electric cars technically would be solar, nuclear and wind powered as those would be forms of electrical generation.

    Climate change control depends on reducing demand for oil.

    It’s telling that the defense department is deliberately ignoring the Trump agenda and using it’s huge budget towards climate change research. Mattis knows it affects where wars will be fought and how. Global warming was somewhat responsible for the Syrian civil war.

  4. This is another instance where the radicals need to go away. Their doom and gloom, we are all going to die, song and dance is beyond hyperbole and of any use.

    It’s the Paris Accord, it does not mean ONE IOTA that anyone including the US will stop using clean energy, or any other green means to benefit the Earth. Nothing has to change nor stop moving in the same direction, we just do not have to pay trillions, nor be subject to others demanding something that may hurt this country.

    This group government think, where if you dare to disagree or go your own way is considered treason is more scary than a coal plant.

  5. So what proof is there that humans changing the climate, & if so what % is due to Humans?

    Wonder how many Bishops have degrees AND experience in engineering & science?

    After that one can ask, how much will climate change with the US out of the agreement, & how much did the US save economically by bailing out?

  6. These religious leaders have a lot more sense than the awful oaf in the Offal Office. Trump’s pulling the US out of the Paris climate accord is insane. It shows utter contempt for climate science and criminally callus regard for our endangered planet and its inhabitants. This ignorant, blustery buffoon has to go. — Edd Doerr

  7. Floydlee is as out of touch with reality as the ignoramus loser in the Offal Office.

  8. Read my science-based article, “Planetary Suicide in Slow Motion,” in the current issue of Free Inquiry magazine. — Edd Doerr

  9. Surprisingly — or perhaps not — THAT’s the usual kneejerk reaction offered by the Global Warmers, when you start talking about how poor people will be impacted after the fanatical GW attack on fossil fuels is completed.

  10. Trump, Bannon and Floydlee are on one side. On the other are 97% of climate scientists and the vast majority of Americans. The rapid expansion of solar, wind and geothermal power will provide millions of jobs for those who need them. Floydlee needs to read my science-based comprehensive article, “Planetary Suicide in Slow Motion,” in the current issue of Free Inquiry magazine. — Edd Doerr

  11. Actually, I’m glad the Defense Dept is starting to do climate research. Why? Because you already know what Dr. Lennart Bengtsson said: “We are still in a situation where our knowledge is insufficient and climate models are not good enough.”

    That sentence is THE main science fact of 2017. No joke. So I’m really glad that the Pentagon is doing its own homework, and no longer trusting those Climategate-ridden, data-fudging, flawed-modeling, self-serving cultists at the United Nations.

    (Hope the Pentagon guys will also do some research on the fate of less-affluent Americans, once the Global Warming Cult starts draining America’s budget while pricing the fossil-fuels out of poor people’s survival reach.)

  12. I believe President Trump made the right decision when he recently pulled out of the Paris accords. Back when the Paris accords were struck, everyone could see that those sitting around the table were unserious about curbing climate change. Had they been inedde, serious, they would have made binding the proposed emissions cuts offered by the developed countries. Instead they let them be merely voluntary. Obama would have supported that move, and would have come home to the US and led a clear ratification effort for the accords in both houses of the US Congress. He did neither.

    I appreciate a president who has no desire to continue a face-saving sham for both the US and Europe!

  13. You might not believe this, but scientists were promising “the rapid expansion of solar, wind, and geothermal power” back when Jimmy Carter was Prez. (And I surely believed ’em!!) But the “millions of jobs”? Just didn’t happen.

    Meanwhile, my neighbor two blocks away has installed solar panels on the roof of his nice $300,000 house. I’m glad it works for him.

    But way across town (where they lack $300,000 houses), I don’t see ANY solar panels or wind power or geothermals at all, after all these decades. Too Pricey. I see people using the same fossil-fuels I grew up with — and even at fossil-fuel prices, some of them *still* need public utility assistance in the winter.

    I ride the city buses I grew up with, and not one of them is electric or solar, after all this time. Fossil-fuel is how bus fares stay affordable. But fear not, I’ll read your article to see if it solves the current problems (heh). G’luck wid’dit.

  14. The furor over Global Warming, er, I mean Climate Change serves a lot of purposes (including the transfer of trillions of dollars from the first to the third world), but it’s not primarily about the money. Climate Change is primarily a stalking-horse for global government. The unaccountable regulatory bureaucracy they set up will morph into control of global commerce…for starters – but it won’t end there.

  15. A lot has happened since Carter was president. Of course poor people cannot afford solar panels (my modest home has them and so our electricity is free), but that is why we need massive efforts supported by governments at all levels and by private companies. Trump’s stupid action only makes matters worse. As I noted above, read my Free Inquiry article to get the big picture. ED

  16. Lennart Bengtsson is not a reliable source on the subject. His sole work on the subject never passed peer review. He has been appealing to the uninformed lay audience for years. Akin to quoting a creationist on the subject of biology. An appeal to authority which lacks a basis to be considered authority.

    If not for the direct connection between the oil industry and conservative wingnut politics, climate change denial would be an unusual stance for them. Every conservative politician movement in the world except the Americans don’t bother with this BS.

  17. Group government think is better known as a treaty which was discussed, worked on extensively and representeviable compromises between nations.

    Time and again Trump is showing how completely out of his depth and just plain ignorant he is on international affairs. BTW NATO members pay their fair share of its operation. The rest of the world is beginning to pity us for electing such s know nothing cretin.

  18. Expand the size (and the context) of the patterns you’re able — and willing — to recognize.

  19. Here is a pattern you don’t recognize. Why do you anti globalist types always sound like The North Korean official party line?

    “We don’t need other nations, we are strong all by ourself!”

    Isolationism and making the nation a laughingstock is not aiming for greatness.

  20. Not 100 % sure but International Business Times has an article citing a report that indicates that fossil fuel subsidies is probably pretty important to how fossil-fuel stays affordable. By contrast where the cost of fossil fuel is comparably more, such as in Europe, there have been big pushes to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy sources. In North America, Ford has come up with a police pursuit rated hybrid vehicle as an alternative to gas guzzling/budget gutting standard police vehicles. (Costs shape policy direction and policy also shapes costs)

    In terms of city buses, their time is coming. Columbia University just did a feasibility study on fleet replacement for NYC and found a minimum cost saving of 300K per electric vehicle in spite of a higher purchase price. But sometimes there are other variables that slow the adoption of new technology including loyalty to existing bus providers. Sometimes it is knowledge as to what might be out there and is not only more eco-friendly but cheaper too. My parents replaced their heating system with a mini ductless heat pump and in addition to getting A/C in the summer, lowered their heating and hydro costs by 2/3rds (and they were pretty desperate to find ways to lower their heating.) Pretty sure they had the first residential unit in their community and only for another 18 months.

    And jobs?

  21. Oh please. Bengtsson passed the “reliable source” test, a zillion years ago.

    You don’t buy the directorship of the Max Planck Institute For Meteorology at Wal-Mart,
    nor do you win the René Descartes Prize for Collaborative Research at the local casino,
    and you certainly don’t come up with a documented 225 science publications by posting at RNS all day.

  22. Sorry about that. You could order the whole magazine (Vol. 37, No. 4, June/July) from Free Inquiry, Box 664, Amherst, NY 14226. I could send you a photocopy if you give me a mailing address. ([email protected])

  23. Not at all. I don’t buy your references given the propensity of denialists to quote mine.

  24. How about considering the lives of indigenous people who live in the Far North of this continent as an option to Bengsston? The Innuit/Eskimo are typical of the people (like the Kiribati or nomads of the Sahahra) who experience the impact of climate change in a way right now that is increasingly disruptive to their culture and to their ability to survive successfully in what is otherwise generally regarded as an inhospitable environment. They live a reality that is aligned with what the huge majority of climate scientists say is and will continue to happen. I think these people and others like them around the world are humanity’s canaries in the mine. It is one thing for polar bears to become extinct but for a people (who are largely Christian) – that is totally on a different level and I think unacceptable in God’s eyes.

  25. Thanks for the offer, but I prefer to keep discussions like this to be open, so all the viewers can take part. But you could present a graph or citations to substantiate your position.

    From your title, are you referring to Milankovitch Cycles, & their effect on Earth’s long term climate changes?

  26. Our power and transportation system is in private hands. The state and federal government can regulate and subsidize but ultimately it rests on the free market to set our course.

  27. What good is a religion that teaches that God will save us from our own foolishness in electing leaders who sacrifice the future of humanity for the sake of personal and corporate greed?

  28. God works through people who heed his call. When Hitler ravaged Europe, millions of people answered the call and made heroic sacrifices to resist evil. During the 60’s, Martin Luther King and millions of others answered the call to oppose racism, and disadvantaged people were given the right to vote and to obtain a better education. In recent years, researchers and health care workers found ways to use human ingenuity and science to invent new treatments for heart disease and cancer. Today as climate change threatens all the recent gains of human civilization, people of God can meet its challenge not by hiding and waiting for God to snap his fingers and make it go away, but by steeping up to the plate and taking responsibility to reduce their own carbon footprint and to elect leaders with vision.

  29. In many places, electricity from clean, renewable energy sources is less than half the cost of electricity from natural gas. Why do so many successful companies like Google and Microsoft install solar panels on their buildings? Hint, it’s not because solar electricity is more expensive.

  30. Our solar panels supply electricity for less than half the cost of purchasing it from natural gas generating plants. We love the free fuel. We love being part of reducing pollution.

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