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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Evangelicals in Florida turn to climate change and call on Gov. Scott to act

Evangelical leaders in Florida have taken on climate change as a cause and are trying to increase pressure on Gov. Rick Scott to take action, while criticizing Sen. Marco Rubio’s stance on the issue.

“He’s smarter than that,” Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland church in Longwood, said in an interview.

This evening, Hunter will moderate a discussion at his church on why Christians should care about climate change. Among the panelists is the Rev. Mich Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, who wrote a letter to Rubio about his widely publicized comments doubting man’s contribution to climate change.

Hescox is also gathering signatures for a petition aimed at Scott.

“As Christians, we believe that God's grace empowers us to honestly confront the challenges we face and change for the better,” it reads. “We are failing to keep our air and water clean for our children, contributing to a changing climate that most hurts the world's poor, and putting Floridians at risk as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. To meet these challenges, we need leaders who understand our duty to God’s creation and future generations. That's why we are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to create a plan to reduce carbon pollution and confront the impacts of a changing climate.”

Hunter, who is a spiritual advisor to President Obama, says he’s taken to urging congregants to do their part: Turning off lights that aren’t needed, setting air conditioning at a reasonable temperature, keeping car tires properly inflated.

He said he was neither panicked nor preoccupied with the issue. “But this is part of what I think is the moral responsibility of the church to lead in areas that can benefit and protect people.”

Asked about Rubio’s comments, he said: “There are certain aspects of this where qualified scientists could disagree, but not with the overwhelming conclusion. I don’t doubt his sincerity, but I understand his political constituency and so does he.”

Rubio lashed out at liberal critics by saying they won’t accept the settled science that life begins at conception.

“I”m pro life so everything about it, I’m in,” Hunter said. “But even if that’s true, two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s not like you can prove the validity of your stance by saying the other side has a wrong stand. That’s not logical.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:59am]

    

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