CHRISTIANS have a strong desire to protect the environment, but are given “precious little” to help them in the way of teaching and preaching, the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, says.
His comments follow a survey of regular churchgoers commissioned by Coventry Cathedral in the run-up to an environmental conference, Reconciling a Wounded Planet, to be held there next month. Results suggested that, while almost 41 per cent of the Christians who responded felt that they had more of a responsibility than non-Christians to tackle the environmental crisis, 43 per cent said that there was no opportunity to hear or discuss the challenge in their place of worship.
Sixty-five per cent of the 153 respondees thought that protecting the environment was very important to them personally, and 59.2 per cent felt “informed” about the issues. Scientists were regarded as most trusted on environmental issues (54.6 per cent), and environmental protection groups were next at 37.5 per cent.
The survey found that only 1.3 per cent of those questioned would trust the media on such issues. One comment spoke of the need for “real factual data, not biased, politically driven reports that are all too often passed as ‘settled science’ in the media”.
Opinion was divided on which issues posed the greatest threat to humankind. Climate change and natural disasters were put at the top of the list by 29.1 per cent. Man-made disasters such as nuclear accidents, oil spills, and war were considered to be the biggest threat by 19.2 per cent. Biodiversity loss and deforestation and urban sprawl and population growth were considered to pose lesser threats, as were population and waste (13.2 per cent). But 19.2 per cent identified the increasing gap between rich and poor as the greatest threat.
When it came to opportunities for discussion in churches, only 3.9 per cent could report favourably; 26.1 per cent had had “limited opportunities”. For 42.5 per cent, it was “not mentioned at all”.
One respondent observed: “We have an environmental policy, but most of the congregation don’t seem to take notice.”
Dr Cocksworth described the survey as revealing a striking and deeply worrying mismatch: “Living well with the whole of creation lies at the heart of our faith.”
A GLOBAL peace summit will be held in Coventry this autumn, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the 14-15 November air raid on the city and with Armistice Day.
The summit, Rising 15, will be addressed by the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Terry Waite, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, and others.
It has been backed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In a video message supporting the summit, which will take place in buildings surrounding the ruins of the medieval cathedral, Dr Tutu said: “I wish to thank you all so very much for the work you do inspiring peace and reconciliation in our global village.
“On evenings when I don’t switch on the evening news, I tend to go to bed filled with hope, largely due to the young people I meet who seem to be seized with the task of righting the imbalances caused by us oldies.”
Rising 15 is a partnership between Coventry City Council, Coventry University, and Coventry Cathedral. The cathedral is home to one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation.