The Environmental Protection Agency is funding an $84,000 grant to study churches and faith-based groups that encourage members to fight climate change, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
The public money is backing a graduate fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor that is looking at "sustainability initiatives" at 17 faith-based institutions in order to develop workshops for religious leaders to teach their followers to work to combat climate change.
"Climate change — which affects traditional faith-based efforts to improve human health, mitigate poverty and redress social inequity — is inspiring religious organizations to advocate for clean air and water, restore ecosystems, and conserve resources," the grant for the project reads.
The project began last fall and is scheduled to continue through September 2016.
The project was initiated because "no systematic studies examine why particular activities arise in specific faith communities, what factors contribute to the durability and efficacy of some faith-based sustainability initiatives, or what outcomes emerge from those initiatives," the grant reads.
"Preliminary analysis suggests that successful initiatives follow similar processes of organizational innovation that integrate sustainability into faith-community social norms, thereby creating expectations for collective and individual behavior," it continues.
The funding supports one doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, EPA Deputy Press Secretary Laura Allen told the Free Beacon. "The student’s research is intended to be a resource for faith-based organizations to determine the best actions to take to combat harmful impacts from climate change," she said.
If any workshops occur, they would be developed by the student receiving the fellowship, not EPA, Allen said.
Climate change is a subject of debate within churches much as it is in society in general. Faith-based groups tend to fall along conservative and liberal ideological lines, though some otherwise conservative evangelicals also have supported climate change initiatives.
is expected to release an encyclical this summer on the issue. He previously has stated "I don't know if it is all [man's fault] but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.