In addition to his evangelism and church planting, Ed Stetzer conducts surveys of pastors for LifeWay. One of the survey questions he asks from time to time is:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I believe global warming is real and manmade.
Stetzer has asked the question in 2008, 2010, and 2013.
In 2010 Stetzer found that the number of American Protestant pastors agreeing with the statement dropped sharply compared with 2008. This matched a trend seen in polls of the American public at large.
Source: New Research: Protestant Pastors & the Environment, Shifting on Global Warming and Teaching on the Environment
Earlier this year, Stetzer found that the number of pastors agreeing with the statement is beginning to trend upward again, but has not yet reached 2008 levels. Again this corresponds with the public at large.
Source: New Research on Protestant Pastors' Views of the Environment
Stetzer further broke down the latest poll results by region, denomination, and political party.
Pastors identifying as Democrats are the most likely to strongly agree (76 percent) in the validity of man-made global warming, followed by Independents (20 percent). Just 7 percent of Republican pastors strongly agree. Conversely, Republican pastors are the most likely to strongly disagree (49 percent), followed by Independents (35 percent) and Democrats (5 percent).
• Pastors in large cities (32 percent) are more likely to strongly agree with the statement than pastors in small cities (20 percent) and rural areas (18 percent);
• Southern pastors are less likely (18 percent) to strongly agree with the statement than pastors in the Northeast (30 percent) and West (25 percent);
• Self-identified mainline pastors are more likely than self-identified evangelical pastors to strongly agree (35 percent vs. 15 percent) with the statement.
Although there is a difference between Mainline and Evangelical pastors, it is much smaller than the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and it is nearly identical to the gap between urban and rural areas. The data suggest the difference is political rather than theological.
A 2009 survey of the general public by the Pew Center seems to confirm this, showing that political party affiliation is the dominant factor affecting views about climate change, and that the economy and the weather may have a small influence.
Also, despite Stetzer's tongue-in-cheek tweet, "I'm sure they are all lying," he points out in his blog that "the consensus in scholarly papers is clear.…A survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals has found 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity."