Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Vol 10, No 3 (2016)

The Greening of Religion Hypothesis (Part One): From Lynn White, Jr and Claims That Religions Can Promote Environmentally Destructive Attitudes and Behaviors to Assertions They Are Becoming Environmentally Friendly

Bron Taylor
Issued Date: 1 Nov 2016


Lynn White, Jr.’s “The Historical Roots of the Ecologic Crisis”, which was published in Science in 1967, has played a critically important role in environmental studies. Although White advanced a multifaceted argument most respondents focused on his claim that the “Judeo-Christian” tradition, especially Christianity, has promoted anthropocentric attitudes and environmentally destructive behaviors. Here, in Part One of a two part study, I demonstrate that White was not the first to make such an argument and then analyze how White’s article precipitated efforts by religionists and scholars alike to uncover, or invent, pro-environmental interpretations of many religious traditions. I then label subsequent claims the world’s religions are becoming more environmentally friendly “The Greening of Religion Hypothesis” and argue that this cultural history of the post-White ferment sets the stage for a much-needed empirical testing of this hypothesis, which is taken up in Part Two of this study.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsrnc.v10i3.29010


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