During the winter of 2017, center staff conducted a large-scale survey of U.S. Mennonite perspectives on topics such as conservation, sustainable living, creation care and climate change. The survey was sent to nearly 40,000 constituents of the center’s partner organizations: MCC, Goshen College, and Eastern Mennonite University. In total, more than 7,000 persons participated in the study.
One section of this survey was the Global Warming’s Six Americas screening tool by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications (YPCCC) and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication (4C), a collaborative program focused on investigating responses to climate change in the United States and around the world. The Six Americas study is an effort by YPCCC and 4C to “know thy audience” by breaking the U.S. population down into six distinct categories, each with its own unique set of responses and reactions. The six subdivisions range from “Alarmed” (most concerned about global warming) to “Dismissive” (least concerned about global warming) and include various categories of “Concerned,” “Cautious,” “Disengaged,” and “Doubtful” in between.
This framework provides a helpful way of understanding where Mennonites (particularly those of Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) congregations) stand on these issues relative to other religious groups and even the US public in general. According to an initial analysis of the survey responses, those who participated in the survey appear to be above the national average when it comes to concern about climate change. Around 60 percent of respondents are categorized as “Alarmed,” or “Concerned.” Even if not fully representative of the diversity of perspectives within the church, this estimate still points to a substantial number of Mennonites who view climate change as an important issue. This figure also places MCUSA respondents as more likely to be tuned into climate change issues than respondents from Catholic, Baptist and other protestant denominations.
The center plans to release additional results from the survey in the coming months.