Religious Influences on Climate Change Rhetoric: a Content Analysis of U.S. News Media

Mariana Gracia, Professor Ircka West, Dr. Katharine Caruso, Professor Michael Maningas, The Honors College, Lone Star College System, 3200 College Park Dr, Conroe, TX, 77384

With an aim to identify cultural influences on climate science communication, this study
investigates how U.S. news media outlets Fox News and CNN frame contrasting Christian
influences on climate change rhetoric since 2015. Building upon the work of Dan Kahan, a
seminal researcher in the science-of-science-communication who suggests a significant
relationship between belief of a societal risk and cultural identity, this research examines
political, economic, and religious factors linked to U.S. climate change perception. Two twenty-
first century Pew Research surveys, “How Americans See Climate Change” and “The Politics of
Climate Change in the United States,” are assessed to trace political and economic controversy
present among climate change attitudes. The Pope’s environmental encyclical, Laudato Si, and
Schwadel and Johnson’s article “Origins of Evangelical Protestants’ Opposition to Environmental
Spending,” are then analyzed to address sociopolitical ties to their environmental messaging. A
content analysis—assessing online publications from 2015 to 2019 by Fox News and CNN
covering both Catholic and Evangelical influences on the climate change discussion—confirms
variations based on political bias. Results establish that a record of stated concern for climate
change from Catholics and environmental Evangelicals contrasts with the disavowal from
traditional Evangelicals. These conclusions indicate that future research should focus on
addressing the cultural barriers present in news media’s climate science rhetoric to ensure
effective communication and scientific literacy. The present study also calls for further
investigation of the influence of religious nationalism on U.S. climate policy.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Mariana Gracia Leon

Institution: Lone Star College System The Honors College

Type: Poster

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5530