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Christianity, Environmentalism, and the Theoretical Problem of Fundamentalism

Douglas Lee Eckberg and T. Jean Blocker
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 35, No. 4 (Dec., 1996), pp. 343-355
DOI: 10.2307/1386410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386410
Page Count: 13
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Christianity, Environmentalism, and the Theoretical Problem of Fundamentalism
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Abstract

Previous studies of the relationship between religion and environmentalism have suffered the lack of measures of religious beliefs or of environmental attitudes and behaviors, or samples that were not clearly representative or sufficiently large. We address these problems using data from the 1993 General Social Survey, which has over 40 measures of environmental attitudes and actions, as well as a large number of measures of religious membership, belief, and participation and other background measures. We focus on 10 indexes of environmentalism and 3 indexes of religiosity. Our findings give some support to the thesis of Lynn White that Christian theology has an "antienvironmental" effect, and they do not support the contention that it has a "stewardship" effect. There are, however, complications. We do find evidence of a "proenvironmental" effect of religious participation. Further, the negative effect of Christian "theology" seems to be largely an effect of fundamentalism or sectarianism. While this could be theologically oriented, it might also be an offshoot of conflict between religious conservatives and liberals.

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