The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is spending $84,000 to study how churches can be used to combat climate change.
A taxpayer-funded graduate fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is examining 17 faith-based institutions that have implemented "sustainability initiatives" in the hopes of developing workshops to teach pastors and other religious leaders how to change the behaviors of their congregants.
"Climate change-which affects traditional faith-based efforts to improve human health, mitigate poverty and redress social inequity-is inspiring religious organizations to advocate for clean air and water, restore ecosystems, and conserve resources," a grant for the project, which began last fall, states. "This project seeks to understand the empirical experiences of faith-based environmental efforts within communities."
"Through what motivations and processes do congregation level sustainability initiatives emerge?" the grant asks. "What factors facilitate and/or hinder implementation of these initiatives? What environmental and community outcomes are perceived to have been achieved through these initiatives?"
"The results will provide insights into the role of religion and faith communities in motivating environmental behavior," it said.
The project, "Sustainability at the Community Level: The Role of Faith-Based Organizations," is scheduled to last through September 2016.
The project sees churches and other religious institutions as an opportunity to reach millions of Americans and promote "more environmentally sustainable behaviors."