SAN ANTONIO - Southern Baptists approved a resolution on global warming that questions the prevailing scientific belief that humans are to blame for the phenomenon and also warns that increased regulation of greenhouse gases will hurt the poor.
The global warming debate has split evangelicals, with some not only pressing the issue but arguing humans bear most of the responsibility for the problem because of greenhouse gas emissions. Other evangelicals say talking about the issue at all diminishes their influence over more traditional culture war issues such as abortion, gay marriage and judicial appointments.
The SBC resolution, approved near the end of the denomination’s annual meeting, acknowledges a rise in global temperatures. But it rejects government-mandated limits on carbon-dioxide and other emissions as “very dangerous” because they might not make much difference and could lead to “major economic hardships” worldwide.
Originally, the measure also backed more government-funded research into global warming’s causes and alternative energies to oil. But the resolution was amended to drop that language, in part over concerns that it would endorse strong government engagement in the issue.
The two-day annual meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination ended Wednesday night. The gathering was highlighted by new steps to prevent child sexual abuse, calls for unity to reverse stagnant membership and a struggle over defining Baptist identity. About 8,500 “messengers,” or delegates, registered to attend.
The global warming resolution acknowledges humans bear some responsibility for rising temperatures while urging caution, said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research with the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.