Religion and Climate Change Indifference: Linking the Sacred to the Social

  •  Thomas A. Hirschl    
  •  James G Booth    
  •  Leland L Glenna    


This study seeks to identify the influence of religion on indifference toward anthropogenic climate change. This influence is conceptualized by adapting Durkheim's classic sociological model where religion serves to integrate individuals into society using sacred beliefs. We test this theory by conceptualizing and estimating a path model where climate change indifference is regressed on religion and political ideology. The study data are five cross sections from the General Social Survey over 1993 to 2018, and the results indicate indirect and direct effects of religion on climate change indifference. Second, the effects vary across religious traditions and biblical belief sets, and in some cases are oppositional. The study results are discussed in terms of religious influences on salient social questions during prior periods of US history. Finally, we describe how indifference toward the threat of climate change results from a blending of politics and religion and reflects the specific concepts that integrate individuals into a community. These conceptions have become embedded within fundamental relationships concerning how individuals understand their existential connection to a community. Because religious concepts are socially influenced, and because communities are free to reinterpret belief systems, the current relation between religious belief and climate change indifference is subject to future revision and re-interpretation.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1918-7173
  • ISSN(Online): 1918-7181
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: quarterly

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