CONSERVATION AND CHRISTIANITY: Outcomes and Values Driving Faith-based Conservation
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Faith-based environmentalism is a sensitive, evolving, and therefore often misunderstood movement. Literature suggests that faith-based nonprofits are capable of shifting values pertinent to the environmental movement, yet various instances keep many conservationists wary of the Church’s role in conservation. This study aims to clarify what faith-based groups are doing, in terms of conservation, and why. Using surveys, interviews, annual reports, and press releases, this study investigates the values and outcomes of five faith-based and four secular environmental nonprofits. I compared these organizations’ values and outcomes with one another to explore the similarities and differences between faith-based and secular nonprofits. I hypothesized that faith-based and secular identities are distinctly different from one another. I also hypothesized that faith-based groups operate off a different set of values than secular groups and that these values yield different types of conservation outcomes. On the contrary, I found that the groups are very similar, in terms of identity, values, and outcomes. At least one secular and one faith-based organization hold almost every value explored. Furthermore, although no quantitative outcome comparisons were feasible, secular and faith-based groups report qualitatively similar outcomes. Finally, within this set of case studies, these similar values and outcomes enable several faith-based/secular partnerships. These findings suggest that faith-based nonprofits are not as different from secular nonprofits as one might initially think and that faith-based environmental groups are an important partner to secular conservation.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
SubjectChristianity and the environment
Comparing secular and faith-based non-profits
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