Constructing the Environment as a Faith Issue

Environmentalists at Work in the Lutheran Church of Sweden

in Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
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This paper seeks to understand how the environment is constructed as a faith issue by environmental coordinators and activists in the Lutheran Church of Sweden. The main results are: 1. On the whole, respondents do not feel environmentalism emanates out of their religious engagement, but that it is something they brought with them. 2. Respondents emphasize instrumentality. A wealthy Church is considered to be an important resource for the sake of creating a sustainable society. Conversely, respondents emphasize environmentalism as a way of proving the relevance of the Church to an estranged society. 3. Theologically, respondents struggle to negotiate between maintaining a communitarian, anti-individualistic eco-theology, while staying within the boundaries of classic Christianity, not crossing over to pantheism. Eco-theology is felt to be stretching the boundaries, developing biblical motifs beyond what they are traditionally thought to mean. The data is analyzed using Peter Beyer’s concepts of religious function and religious performance.

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