As a deeply committed pastor in Atlanta's African-American community, the Rev. Gerald Durley had long thought of himself as enlightened and involved when it came to issues that hurt people's lives. He felt he was fulfilling his responsibilities to others. Until, he says, he saw the film "The Great Warming" last May.
"My total perspective on environmental issues and life in general was drastically altered," says the pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church. "This went beyond any political, racial, or gender issues – it is a moral crisis."
Dr. Durley has since shown the documentary on global warming to his congregation and invited ministers, rabbis, and imams to see it. He has gone on radio to discuss the crisis and is promoting sermons on the subject. A discussion he held with Atlanta children has been edited into the latest version of the film.
"The Great Warming" – a documentary made in Canada and narrated by actor Keanu Reeves and singer Alanis Morissette – tells the same disturbing story as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." But it has become a strategic vehicle for reaching out particularly to Evangelicals, many of whom were unlikely to rush to see the Gore production. Some hope it spurs a tipping point in the attitudes of grass-roots Christians.
Many conservative Christians have held a negative view of environmentalism, some even calling activists "pantheistic tree-huggers." Along with the Bush administration, they have insisted that the scientific evidence isn't yet in.
The dramatic film travels the globe from China to Peru, Bangladesh to southern California, depicting the impact of climate change on human lives and detailing the scientific evidence. It also presents the voice of a new Evangelical leadership "converted" to the movement, in language the faithful can appreciate.
Richard Cizik, Washington spokesman of the National Association of Evangelicals, urges action based on the biblical demand for "creation care." Rev. Cizik had his own change of heart after listening to an Evangelical scientist from Oxford University lay out the scientific consensus.