In his exploration of the interaction between religion and worldwide social and cultural change, the author examines the major theories of global change and discusses the ways in which such change impinges on contemporary religious practice, meaning and influence. Beyer explores some of the key issues in understanding the shape of religion today, including religion as culture and as social system, pure and applied religion, privatized and publicly influential religion, and liberal versus conservative religions. He goes on to apply these issues to five contemporary illustrative cases: the American Christian Right; Liberation Theology movements in Latin America; the Islamic Revolution in Iran; Zionists in Israel; and religiou
Chapter 9: Religious Environmentalism
The Recent Upsurge
Like most new social movements, those focusing on ecological issues have their practical origin in the 1960s. Already in this early phase, a number of religious actors, most often liberal Christian elites and church leaders, saw religious significance in environmental problems (see for example Barbour, 1972; Elder, 1970; Santmire, 1970). These received official mention in various Christian church documents and at various meetings (e.g. ‘Justice in the World’,  in Walsh and Davies, 1984: 191; World Council of Churches, 1976: 120ff.). And individual churches passed resolutions formally stating the religious basis of their ecological concern.1 In spite of the early entry into the arena, however, until the later 1980s environmentalism remained a secondary or marginal direction in most official religious ...