Jonathan Merritt, an M.Div. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has spearheaded an effort to raise the awareness of Southern Baptists concerning global climate change. The name of the effort is the “Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative” (SBECI). The website for the effort has a declaration outlining SBECI’s beliefs about climate change and how Southern Baptists should respond to it. Several prominent Southern Baptist leaders have signed on to endorse the declaration, including two former SBC Presidents.
As you might imagine, the effort has sparked some controversy among Southern Baptists. For instance, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, led by Dr. Richard Land, did not sign-on to endorse. Last week, the Baptist Press ran a series of stories clarifying that SBECI does not speak in behalf of the entire denomination (see here, here, here, and here).
Nevertheless, the effort has gotten a significant amount of media attention, including a story in the New York Times. Last week, Al Mohler interviewed Merritt about the initiative and the controversy. You can listen to it below.[audio:http://www.sbts.edu/MP3/totl/2008/AMP_03_11_2008.mp3]
NPR also had a brief story including statements from SBC President Frank Page and former President James Merritt: “Climate Change Prompts Debate among Baptists.”