A Study of Faith-Based Environmental Program Leaders and Congregants at Churches and Synagogues in the Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic Regions
Murrill, Sara B.
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Faith-based environmentalism involves caring for the earth through a reflection of oneâ s morals, values, and faith. In this study, religious leaders that are actively involved in faith-based environmental groups were interviewed and congregational members surveyed to explore belief systems and attitudes with the goal of understanding how to increase program participation and make faith-based environmental groups more effective. Twenty environmental religious action leaders were interviewed. Survey questions were also administered to 10 church/synagogue congregations within the study region. Interview results showed that action leaders were interested in secular and religious partnerships, although they felt that some partnerships may be more appropriate than others. Leaders felt that clergy support was essential to program success. The extent to which faith contributes to oneâ s identity could be a factor for participation for some congregants. Leaders thought that a combination of hands-on, scripture-based, and sermon-based approaches, as well as integration throughout church or synagogue practices and activities would increase efficacy. Political perceptions were cited as a reason for non-participation. Congregational survey results showed that environmental commitment positively predicted program participation, whereas political conservatism was an inverse predictor. Faith identity, secular and faith partnership attitudes, religiosity, church attendance, and attitudes about support from church leadership did not impact whether or not congregational members participated in faith-based environmental programs. Program preferences and environmental views were analyzed to determine any differences. Preferred learning methods included hands-on activities and expert guest speakers. Congregants most viewed environmental problems as being a moral, social justice, and economic issue.
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