WASHINGTON (ABP) — Radio ads in eight states will encourage Christians to view climate change as both a moral issue and a matter of national security.
A media campaign by the American Values Network will saturate Christian radio stations in key Southern and Midwestern districts in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Virginia and Ohio, said Katie Paris, program and communications director for Faith in Public Life, a progressive group for advancing faith in the public square.
"This campaign provides a moral and national security framework for supporting action on climate change, and it demonstrates that the faith and military communities will stand behind and encourage undecided members of Congress to support a climate bill that protects the most vulnerable and makes America more secure," she said in a conference call with reporters May 5.
Along with radio ads, the campaign includes emails to more than 5 million evangelicals and Catholics in four states.
"Security and our values are connected in this issue of climate change, because America is strong when we remain true to our values," said Jim Ball, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
An ordained Baptist minister, Ball praised efforts by Congressmen Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Tom Perriello (D-Va.) to work for legislation that reflects values of fairness, compassion and freedom.
"If there is a problem that the county must tackle like climate change, then we must share any burdens together," Ball said. "No group or regions should be disproportionately impacted when solving the problem."
Ball said compassion means "as a country we help those in need."
"Climate change will hit the poor and poor countries the hardest, and remaining true to the compassion within us means helping the most vulnerable adapt or cope with the consequences of climate change," he said. "We are a compassionate people and we should address this problem of climate change precisely because we are compassionate."
Ball said climate change is an issue of freedom because its impact on the poor "will rob them of opportunities to create better lives for themselves and their children."
"Overcoming global warming is the next great cause of freedom, and we need legislation that reflects these values," he said.
Ball, a graduate of Baylor University who graduated with a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1987, is best known for media coverage of his 2003 multi-state tour in a Toyota Prius emblazoned with signs reading "What Would Jesus Drive?"
The new radio campaign coincides with a national survey commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Oxfam America that reveals strong support among Christians for laws that address climate change and protect vulnerable people.
According to the poll, conducted by Public Religion Research, majorities of Americans, including majorities of Catholics and Evangelicals, believe dealing with climate change will create new jobs and help avoid more serious economic problems in the future.
Nearly seven in 10 agree climate change is making it harder for the world's poorest people to support their families, and three quarters support helping poor people adapt to food and water shortages caused by rising global temperatures.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.