Catholic Republicans are more likely to believe in global warming than their fellow party members of other religions, according to research released Friday.
The research, conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, was released one day after the Pope issued his encyclical on the environment, which called on Catholics everywhere to step up to the frontline in battling climate change.
Though some Catholic Republican politicians were quick to criticize the Pope for jumping into global politics, the poll found that many Catholic Republican voters agree with the pontiff on climate change.
Fifty-one percent of Catholic Republicans agreed with the statement “Yes, global warming is happening,” compared to 42 percent of non-Catholic Republicans. Twenty-seven percent of Catholic Republicans said global warming is not happening, compared to 37 percent of non-Catholic Republicans. The remaining 22 percent of Catholic Republicans said they did not know.
Additionally, 36 percent of Catholic Republicans said they believe global warming can be mostly attributed to human activity, compared to 30 percent of Republicans of other denominations. A quarter of of non-Catholic Republicans said they know that most scientists agree that human-caused global warming is occurring, compared to 30 percent of Catholic Republicans.
The study also found that 59 percent of Catholic Republicans self-identify as “conservative,” compared to 69 percent of Republicans of other religious backgrounds, indicating that Catholic Republicans are perhaps more moderate in their political beliefs. But even among those Catholics that adopt the “conservative” label, belief in global warming remains substantial. Forty-two percent of self-identified conservative Catholic Republicans said they believe that global warming is happening, compared to 35 percent of non-Catholic conservative Republicans.
Lonnie Ellis, associate director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, a group working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to mobilize Catholics on climate change, attributed Yale’s findings to the church's teachings.
"I link the support for climate action to the church's broader emphasis on protecting the poor," she told the Huffington Post. “Across the political spectrum, I think we see more support from Catholics than from many other Christian groups for things like humane immigration reform, ending the death penalty, and addressing poverty.”
The Yale report draws from six separate surveys of American adults conducted between the fall of 2012 and spring of 2015.