Q&A with evangelical organizer Tori Goebel on the difference 10 years makes and how a rising generation of Christians is looking for “avenues for action.”
More than one-third of American evangelicals believe that climate change is a pressing problem, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. One of the groups mobilizing believers on this issue, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022. National organizer and spokesperson Tori Goebel spoke to CT about what has changed in the last decade and how younger Christians are pursing activism as an expression of love and hope.
What was the evangelical conversation about climate change like in 2012 when Young Evangelicals for Climate Action started?
One of the reasons YECA was founded was that climate change was not really being discussed. Remember, 2012 was an election year and climate change wasn’t coming up in the campaigns and the debates.
We also weren’t talking about it in our churches. As an evangelical, I see how climate change activism connects to a core mandate of my faith: to love God and care for our neighbors. So why aren’t churches talking about it? Climate change seemed to be off-limits. But when our churches don’t seem to care that we are impacting our climate in a way that’s going to have a detrimental impact on our neighbors, that’s really frustrating.
So the motivation for starting YECA was to empower young people and equip young people to talk to their churches and have these conversations—start the conversation. We could help the church understand that this is a way to live our values, to care for our neighbors and God’s creation.
How has the conversation changed in the last 10 years?
At the beginning, a lot of the conversations were “What is climate change?” Climate science 101: “Is this even happening …