James Watt

Vice.com's take on climate change blames same old fundamentalist hobgoblins

Vice.com's take on climate change blames same old fundamentalist hobgoblins

I know journalists are seeking good click-bait headlines, but Vice.com’s “The Fundamentalists Holding us Back from a Climate Change Solution” sounded overwrought right from the get-go.

But I wanted to linger, as I’m interested in what all these news/feature/opinion forums, aka millennial niche sites (Quartz, Vice, Vox, Vocativ, Mic, BuzzFeed, OZY, Fusion, The Ringer, etc.) offer in terms of religion reporting. Most don’t seem to have a specialist on staff.

So they get a freelancer or staff writer, who may or may not know anything about religion, to hold forth. Which is why I was interested in Vice.com’s take on climate change problems. The use of “fundamentalists” in the headline is a red flag, in that this term is hardly used these days (and the Associated Press Stylebook says it should be used carefully). The folks described in the opening paragraphs are actually evangelicals.

It's unclear whether the writer knows the difference between the two, but our own Richard Ostling explains things for the uninitiated. Vice says:

Rachel Lamb grew up thinking that climate change was a liberal hoax. That's what everyone thought at the rural Michigan church where her dad was the pastor. The world was slowly getting hotter, but that fact was rarely mentioned in the Baptist social circles she spun through, and when it was, it was in the context of something Democrats blew way out of proportion. Her attitude about the subject was more wary than antagonistic. If someone were to come up to her clique and suggest that the climate was changing, their response would most likely be a sarcastic, Where'd you hear that from?
Although the 27-year-old used to go hiking in national parks with her family as a kid, she was taught to think of her love of Jesus and her appreciation of nature as being separate—two puzzle pieces that made up the larger picture of her personality but didn't fit together. Then she took a climate change politics course at Wheaton College, a Christian university in Illinois, where her worldview coalesced and she found her purpose.

We next learn that she is a member of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, but that progressive groups like hers are foiled by that:

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