Special Issue "Religious Engagement with Climate Change"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Stephen Ellingson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd, Clinton, NY 13323, USA
Interests: religion and the environment; religious social movements; religion and politics; alternative and sustainable agriculture

Special Issue Information

The purpose of this Special Issue is to assess the current state of religious involvement to address climate change and the effects we are already experiencing. What are religions actively doing to combat climate change and has it made a difference? What are the limits on religions’ involvement in and work towards climate justice? Why have some religions taken action to combat climate change while others refuse to engage? The Special Issue aims to assess the current explanations for the role of religion in addressing climate change and offer new analyses about religion and climate change from the perspectives of social sciences and humanities.

Dear Colleagues,

As the pace and intensity of climate changes increases, so too does the peril it poses to earth and all who live in it. Many religions follow an ethic of caring for those most strongly impacted by the effects of events like climate change and bear the moral legitimacy to mobilize millions to act in order to ameliorate climate change. Historically, many religions have been silent, indifferent, and even hostile to environmentalism, but over the past 25 years, religious communities and organizations have developed green theologies, ethics, and rituals, and have spoken prophetically in defense of nature. But how effective have religions been in mobilization action and persuading individuals, communities, and governments to take action against climate change?

The purpose of this Special Issue is to assess the current state of religious involvement to address climate change and the effects we are already experiencing. What are religions actively doing to combat climate change and has it made a difference? What are the limits on religions’ involvement in and work towards climate justice? Why have some religions taken action to combat climate change while others refuse to engage? The issue will be comparative in scope on several dimensions: From local religious congregations to national bodies; from religions of the book to dark green and eco-spirituality communities; from the developed west to the developing south. Contributions from a variety of disciplines that focus on assessing and explaining the role of religions in addressing climate change are welcome.

Prof. Stephen Ellingson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • religion and the environment
  • climate change
  • climate justice
  • green religion
  • ecopolitics
  • environmental ethics

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The World on Fire: A Buddhist Response to the Environmental Crisis
Religions 2020, 11(8), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080381 - 23 Jul 2020
Viewed by 805
Abstract
This paper identifies and responds to the four main objections raised against Buddhist environmentalism. It argues that none of these objections is insurmountable and that, in fact, Buddhists have developed numerous concepts, arguments, and practices which could prove useful for dealing with the [...] Read more.
This paper identifies and responds to the four main objections raised against Buddhist environmentalism. It argues that none of these objections is insurmountable and that, in fact, Buddhists have developed numerous concepts, arguments, and practices which could prove useful for dealing with the most pressing environmental problems we have created. Buddhism is sometimes described by its critics as too detached from worldly concerns to respond to the environmental crisis but the successes of Engaged Buddhism demonstrate otherwise. Although halting climate change will require inter-governmental co-operation and immediate action, we should not underestimate the necessity of grassroots movements for achieving lasting change in our attitudes and behaviours. If meditation can awaken us to the fact of ecological inter-connectedness and to the ultimate drivers of climate change (e.g., greediness and a misplaced sense of entitlement) it can also help us reconnect with nature and expand our circle of moral concern to include plants, animals, and the wider environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Engagement with Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle
Towards East Asian Ecotheologies of Climate Crisis
Religions 2020, 11(7), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070341 - 09 Jul 2020
Viewed by 733
Abstract
An anthropogenically caused climate crisis threatens the Earth and humanity. As such, religion’s engagement is of increasing importance. This paper critically evaluates the significance of the East Asian context regarding the climate crisis, arguing for contextualization of contemporary ecotheology, or an East Asian [...] Read more.
An anthropogenically caused climate crisis threatens the Earth and humanity. As such, religion’s engagement is of increasing importance. This paper critically evaluates the significance of the East Asian context regarding the climate crisis, arguing for contextualization of contemporary ecotheology, or an East Asian contextual ecotheology. Considering how key contextual elements might inform ecotheologies to mobilize Christians regionally to action in relation to the climate crisis, this paper concludes that the field of East Asian ecotheology is an emerging conversation rich with opportunity for continued theologizing and inter-religious dialogue, and practical impetus for East Asian Christians to mobilize to address the climate crisis. Suggestions are made as to how these ecotheologies may be integrated into Christian practice in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Engagement with Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle
The Accra Confession as Dangerous Memory: Reformed Ecclesiology, the Ecological Crisis, and the Problem of Catholicity
Religions 2020, 11(7), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070320 - 30 Jun 2020
Viewed by 895
Abstract
This study presents the Accra Confession as a theological response to the ecological crisis from a Reformed perspective while also addressing its critical weakness, namely the problem of universality in both Reformed ecclesiology and global approaches to ecological destruction. Because of a fragile [...] Read more.
This study presents the Accra Confession as a theological response to the ecological crisis from a Reformed perspective while also addressing its critical weakness, namely the problem of universality in both Reformed ecclesiology and global approaches to ecological destruction. Because of a fragile universality, both Reformed churches and global institutions find it difficult to agree on a concrete plan to address climate change. Theologically, this difficulty arrives not primarily from disagreement with the existence or causes of climate change but how Christian theological values translate concretely to acts of justice. This study proposes a way to ground these discussions on the concept of dangerous memory by resourcing the theology of Johann Baptist Metz. Dangerous memories allow stories of the suffering vanquished to be constitutive to the construction of caritas, which in turn serves as a suitable theological foundation for addressing differing approaches to engaging climate issues. Reading the Accra Confession as dangerous memory, then, provides a valuable resource to the Reformed community by allowing the testimonies of those affected adversely by climate change to substantially inform theological discourses on climate justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Engagement with Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle
The Virgin of the Vulnerable Lake: Catholic Engagement with Climate Change in the Philippines
Religions 2020, 11(4), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040203 - 18 Apr 2020
Viewed by 943
Abstract
In the Philippines, popular belief has it that the image of the Virgen de Caysasay was fished out of the Pansipit River in 1603. Since then, many miraculous healing events, mostly involving water, have been credited to it. The prevalence of water highlights [...] Read more.
In the Philippines, popular belief has it that the image of the Virgen de Caysasay was fished out of the Pansipit River in 1603. Since then, many miraculous healing events, mostly involving water, have been credited to it. The prevalence of water highlights the vulnerability of physical bodies against the onslaught of environmental destruction that comes with climate change. In the Climate Links Report on Climate Change Vulnerability (2017), it was shown that the Philippines’ agricultural and water resources are already strained due to multiple factors, including susceptibility to extreme weather conditions. Using the example of the Virgen de Caysasay, this paper examines Catholic engagement with climate change, specifically the pastoral letters of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pertaining to climate change and the various responses of the faithful vis-a-vis the extreme vulnerability of the different bodies of water in the Caysasay region. I argue that, in the case of the Virgen de Caysasay, the vulnerabilities of the community—of the bodies of water and of sacred spaces by virtue of them being assigned as such due to religious practices—reveal the dissonance between what the local Catholic Church imparts and communicates through its CBCP pastoral letters on the environment to the faithful community and the realities on the ground. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Engagement with Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable International Relations. Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Planetary Implications of “Integral Ecology”
Religions 2019, 10(8), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080466 - 05 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1656
Abstract
This paper analyzes the theoretical and pragmatic implications for international relations and world politics of the new holistic approach to climate change articulated by Pope Francis in the Encyclical Laudato Si’, particularly through the notion of “integral ecology”. It is not my [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes the theoretical and pragmatic implications for international relations and world politics of the new holistic approach to climate change articulated by Pope Francis in the Encyclical Laudato Si’, particularly through the notion of “integral ecology”. It is not my intention to offer an exegesis of the Papal document. I will rather try to illustrate and discuss its planetary hermeneutics. I emphasize that the Encyclical’s perspective is not exclusively normative, and that, within the dynamic interplay between social structure and human agency, it can also be considered as a call to action. In this context, I suggest that both International Relations Theory and global politics have much to learn from the fundamental claims of contemporary religions in relation to climate disruption. In particular, Pope Francis’ document, far from being just a new chapter in the unfolding process of the “greening” of religions, raises the issue of the sustainability of the present world system. Therefore, I contend that the perspective of the Encyclical calls for a radical transformation of international relations, since it emphasizes the deep implications of environmental issues on the entire spectrum of security, development, economic and ethical challenges of contemporary world politics. Against this backdrop, my objective is to connect the main tenets of the Encyclical to the environmental turn in International Relations Theory and to the new epistemological challenges related to the paradigm shift induced by the new planetary condition of the Anthropocene and the relevant questions arising for a justice encompassing the humanity-earth system. The Encyclical seems to suggest that practicing sustainable international relations means exiting the logic of power or hegemony, while simultaneously operationalizing the concept of care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Engagement with Climate Change)
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