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New sermon from the evangelical pulpit: global warming

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The movie has been previewed in more than 220 churches in recent weeks, and last Friday opened in Regal Cinema theaters in 34 cities. Ads are being run on Christian radio and in church bulletins, and Evangelical leaders have provided the film's website with Bible study and discussion guides.

"We pray everyone will see 'The Great Warming,' " says the Rev. Paul de Vries, president of New York Divinity School, who prepared the materials. "Science has given us an extraordinary wake-up call, but scriptural teaching gives us direction to be responsible for God's world."

Another website was created in early October to enable those who have seen the film to question political candidates running for Congress about where they stand on the issue (www.questionsforcandidates.org).

The film has support from a broad range of groups, including the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Jewish organizations, which have their own global warming initiatives. The NCC, for example, recently released a report on how member churches can reduce carbon emissions and overall utility expenses. The American Jewish Committee provides cash incentives to its employees to purchase fuel- efficient vehicles.

A "Call to Action" statement on the film's website has gathered dozens of signatories from a broad range of faith leaders, environmental groups, scientists, policymakers, and celebrities.

But converting and galvanizing Evangelicals is a major goal. "Too often Evangelicals have focused on just one or two issues," says Dr. de Vries.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, a Florida pastor who is the new president of the Christian Coalition, agrees. Speaking just for himself on a recent "Call to Action" teleconference, he said, "I'm part of the religious right, and am one of those leaders who wants to expand the agenda." After viewing the film, his 12,000-member congregation formed a team to consider how to become more ecologically responsible.

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