EPA Chief Equates Climate Change With ‘Religious Belief’

Donald Trump’s selection to run the Environmental Protection Agency – you know, Scott Pruitt, the guy who has sued the same agency over a dozen times – has been careful during the confirmation period not to sound too opinionated when it comes to climate change. This week, though, the media shed light on an interview where Pruitt dismissed acknowledgment of climate change as a “religious belief.”

Referring to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat who is a strong environmental advocate in Congress, Pruitt said, “This Senator from Rhode Island, during the midst of the testimony was just – it was just a religious belief for him and for others.”

Pruitt is making a bogus comparison. Faith is about belief in the unseen and that which cannot be proven. Senator Whitehouse and colleagues, on the other hand, aren’t resorting to faith to determine their stance on climate change. There’s endless scientific evidence to show that manmade climate change is real, so stating support for this science should not be construed in that manner.

Besides, if anything, the “religious” belief tied to climate change is one of denial. According to Pew Research Center, by demographic, white evangelicals are the least likely to think that climate change is caused by humans and most likely to believe there is “no solid evidence” to say that climate change exists period. Those who attend church at least once a week are also more likely to hold those views than those who do not.

Gina McCarthy, a former leader for the EPA, agrees that if religion is related to the environmental movement, it’s coming on the denial side. “I don’t know why climate change got to be a religion instead of a simple, fact-based science exercise,” said McCarthy. There shouldn’t be a leap of faith required in one direction or another, just a simple assessment of the facts we have in front of us.

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist who also considers herself a strong evangelical, is one of the people currently working to disassociate our environmental woes from religion. She frequently hosts forums to show fellow evangelicals the strong data that proves the legitimacy of climate change.

Hayhoe acknowledges that it can be a difficult pitch, with so many Evangelicals adopting all of the Republican Party’s views due to their firm opposition of abortion. That’s why she’s careful to make the case that taking a stand on climate change doesn’t make people any less of an Evangelical, and that the Bible actually supports the idea that faithful people should take care of the planet with which God blessed them.

Even more famous religious figures have joined in this crusade, such as Pope Francis who has scored headlines urging Catholics to take climate change seriously. The pope went so far as to call failing to combat manmade climate problems a sin.

In the same interview mentioned at the top of the article, Pruitt labeled the left’s so-called religious belief about climate change problematic. “[Environmentalism] is truly about the suppression of free speech and the suppression of ideas,” Pruitt argued.

Funny how Pruitt can see that these supposed “religious beliefs” are restrictive to others (in a situation that’s not really a religious belief, mind you) but when conservatives cite their religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against non-heterosexual Americans, it’s not a problem!

Protecting our planet needs to be a priority if our species has a shot at survival. Knowing that the foremost leader on the environment is shrugging off eco-activism as a matter of a religion leaves us in a frightening situation.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

98 comments

Amanda M
Amanda M20 days ago

Sadly, where I live the local newspaper regularly has a letter to the editor or comment in the feedback section that is either supporting creationism (which IS based on religion!) or denying climate change using religious or quack science arguments as their basis for "fact." What's worse, the same people who are creationists are also climate change deniers. Says a lot about the atmosphere towards rational thought and scientific fact where I live, doesn't it? Hint: it's a VERY "red" county where if you're a non-Christian or a Democrat, you'd better keep your head down and your mouth shut!

And people wonder why I'm Wiccan. Fighting to preserve the environment and take care of our planet is not just firmly based in scientific fact, it's also a large part of my religious beliefs.

Not to sound snarky, but Pruitt and the other Religious Reich types would HATE a pin I got years ago. It says "He is YOUR God. They are YOUR rules. YOU burn in hell!" I've got others too, just as spot on and just as funny.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeldabout a month ago

Nelson,
Careful, your prejudices are showing again.

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Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrieabout a month ago

Another example of the type of idiots chosen by Trump to lead an important institution like the EPA. Pruitt's denial is not surprising since he's a hard core Baptist who believes in the Biblical folk lores of talking snakes and parting seas etc. Sad that Americans, instead of progressing on scientific thought, are regressing to medieval ideas. People like Pruitt have another agenda which is to collude with the oil and coal billionaires.

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Philippa Powers
Philippa Pabout a month ago

Scott Pruitt is trying to get his way by comparing apples to oranges.

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Richard A
Richard Aabout a month ago

I was going to say it's funny the way that Scott Pruitt says that "It is truly about the suppression of free speech and the suppression of ideas.”, but actually, to me it's disgraceful. It has been, after all, the republicans in power that have been scrubbing state's web sites of any and all mention of climate change. It has been republicans in power that have place bans on any talk of climate change. Yet more examples of alt-facts and alt-history. - - -link to quote - - - https://thinkprogress.org/scott-pruitt-epa-radio-show-comments-c88820974ce7#.7rg0p5ba3

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeldabout a month ago

Does anyone else here think it is sad that some posters continue to refer to those they oppose as stupid or other intellectual deficiencies. Can you imagine referring to your spouse or friends in such a manner every time they disagreed.

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Mike M
Mike Mabout a month ago

Trump put a whole lot of stupid in positions that will undermine America's standing in the world and if Trump has his way he will be the last "President" ever elected.

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M s
M sabout a month ago

it's sad that pruitt was picked He is cold,ruthless and a liar

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rita uljee
rita uljeeabout a month ago

and so they like us to keep on dreaming? no way we can deni this!

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Heidi Gail N
Heidi Gail Nabout a month ago

A lot of damage can be done in a short time. Please stand up for a healthy, safe and GREEN environment and supportive ecosystem. Nature needs help to survive your 45th's administration. Action.

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