Climate Change and Religion: Challenges, Changes and Next Steps in Theology and Praxis

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 June 2024 | Viewed by 279

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Department of Pastoral Studies, Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, St. Meinrad, IN 47577, USA
Interests: climate change; Anthropocene; pastoral theology; practical theology; political theology; psychoanalysis; religious experience

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Guest Editor
United Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia Campus, Philadelphia, PA 19119, USA
Interests: pastoral theology; disaster studies; climate change; pastoral formation; trauma

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In 2014, Naomi Klein wrote that climate change changes everything, and Clayton Crockett, in 2012, argued that climate change means we have to experiment radically with new ways of thinking and acting because the current Western paradigms are in a state of exhaustion, depletion, and death. These calls have been picked up by theologians both on a theoretical and practical level. As early as 2006, Larry Graham, noted from a theological perspective, that “God suffers loss, when the world suffers catastrophe,” and calls us to use “the compassion and vitalizing power of God made palpable in lamentation, interrogation, and reclamation.”  Ryan LaMothe (2016) argues that climate change must change not only research for pastoral theologians, but teaching, to prepare the next generations of pastoral theologians as scholar activists, who will be dealing with the realities of a changed climate.  Storm Swain (2020) argues for an “eco-ethic of care, that pastorally connects care of person to care of planet,” calling for a solidarity that “recognizes the ‘climate crisis’ and acts with a trauma-informed approach to the Earth.”

In considering the stark present and future realities of climate change and Klein and Crockett’s views, what are these “new ways of thinking and acting”?  What are the implications, questions, challenges, and issues for practical and pastoral theologians? In this Special Issue, we invite scholars to contribute an article (8,000–10,000 words) that addresses a particular present or future challenge for practical or pastoral theology given the realities of climate change, and to reflect on how that challenge is being or could be met. Here are some possible areas to consider:

  • Does climate change alter how we think about religious experience and education? What is the ‘Next Step’ for your teaching, research, curriculum, and organization in response to Climate Change?
  • How does climate change alter how we think about and respond to psychological and spiritual suffering vis à vis individuals, families, communities, or societies?
  • Given that other-than-human species and the Earth have been omitted from Western political theologies and philosophies, how might we re-imagine ecclesiology and ethics? Since faith is a central category for pastoral and practical theology, does the inclusion of other-than-human species alter our understanding of the dynamics of faith? Can we include other-than-human species in our notions of faith development?
  • Does climate change alter how we understand trauma (extending this to other-than-human beings) or moral injury?
  • Numerous researchers have noted the rise of eco-emotions (anxiety, guilt, sorrow, despair). How has and will this research alter pastoral and practical theology?
  • How has Abrahamic scriptures and attending Western political theologies contributed to climate change? How are other-than-human species represented in scripture (and political theologies)?
  • Does scripture and political theologies need to be decolonized? If so, why and how? Similarly, how do we need to decolonize pastoral and practical theologies?
  • How has or may climate change alter our respective organizations vis à vis mission statements, organizational structures, activities (e.g., conferences)?
  • How might/has interdisciplinary work with those outside the fields of theology and religion show us new ways forward?
  • How do our theological anthropologies imprison us in anthropocentric ways of thinking and what needs reframing or uplifting to counter this?

We will review titles and abstracts which are submitted by 1st November 2023.

Please send your abstracts to: Prof. Dr. Ryan LaMothe and the Rev. Dr. Storm Swain

Prof. Dr. Ryan LaMothe
Dr. Storm Swain
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Anthropocene
  • care
  • climate change
  • climate distress
  • eco-emotions
  • ethics
  • moral injury
  • pastoral theology
  • practical theology
  • religious experience
  • trauma

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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