Reframing Environmental Protection as Stewardship of Creation

Professor Nicole Woolsey Biggart

Co-Author: Dina Biscotti


A growing religious environmental movement is working to reconcile environmental thought and practice with the mission and ministry of religious organizations.  We examine two leading interfaith social change organizations and identify key strategies they routinely employ to create shared meaning and alignment between environmentalism and faith.  They reframe stewardship in religious organizations by 1) highlighting and interpreting environmental themes in sacred texts and scriptures, 2) celebrating and fostering mutual awareness of environmental action by faith-based organizations, and 3) providing resources and creating linkages between clergy and lay leaders across religious congregations.  By emphasizing moral and spiritual rationales for the adoption of resource-saving products and behaviors at both the congregational and household level, these networked organizations help shift the perception of global climate change from an insurmountable problem to one that is being addressed in cooperation with like others.  Our investigation reveals organizational actors deeply engaged in growing moral calls for political action to address climate change and underscores the need for more socially realistic models of technology adoption and behavior change.