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Beliefs and actions towards an environmental ethical life

The Christianity-environment nexus reflected in a cross-national analysis

Ruxandra Malina Petrescu-Mag, Adrian Ana, Iris Vermeir & Dacinia Crina Petrescu

Abstract

The present study seeks to introduce the European Christian community to the debate on environmental degradation while displaying its important role and theological perspectives in the resolution of the environmental crisis. The fundamental question authors have asked here is if Christianity supports pro-environmental attitudes compared to other religions, in a context where religion, in general, represents the ethical foundation of our civilization and, thus, an important behavior guide. The discussion becomes all the more interesting as many voices have identified the Christian theological tradition as ecologically bankrupt, while others as a source for environmental ethics. In seeking to refute or to confirm the Lynne White’s thesis, firstly, we aimed to rediscover the biblical ecological consciousness and the theology of care. Secondly, following the literature evidence on relevant differences between countries and the influence that religion has on approaching environmental issues, we considered the religion-environmental correlation within a particular country context. For this, data from the European Values Study survey were used, by including 20 European countries. One novelty of this contribution is to highlight the influence of the legacy of the former political regime on pro-environmental attitude and religious practices. The study testifies that the search for a common language for environmental stewardship is a difficult task and fundamental to how we behave. Despite this, within this frame of discussion, we argue that Christianity, as a major social actor, co-exists with and can enhance the interest in and respect for nature.




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