More than 40 evangelical leaders are backing President-elect Donald Trump's selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Trump received immediate backlash from left-leaning media outlets and environmentalist groups, who made claims that Pruitt was a climate change denier. They made further accusations that his appointment would only deter the agency's purpose.
However, faith leaders, especially Southern Baptists, are backing Trump's pick.
In an open letter to the president-elect, the group called Pruitt "well qualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency" and deserving of "the full support of the United States Senate in his confirmation."
The list of signatories included prominent evangelical pastor Greg Laurie, leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines, former SBC presidents Ronnie Floyd, James Merritt and Jack Graham, and Southern Theological Seminary President Dr. Richard Land.
"We are evangelical Christians who are committed to a proper stewardship of all creation, driven by our knowledge that 'the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof,' (Psalm 24:1)," read the letter.
The group of leaders sent the letter in support of Pruitt after Episcopal Bishops in Massachusetts signed a joint letter expressing their "dismay" of Trump's selection, The Christian Post reported.
"We do not deny the existence of climate change nor the urgency of this concern," the letter states. "We affirm an ongoing debate on the proper balance between the unleashing of human enterprise and the protection of creation. ... We believe that Attorney General Pruitt has been misrepresented as denying 'settled science,' when he has actually called for a continuing debate."
Trump believes Pruitt, who is a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma will be a "powerful advocate" for protecting the environment and for promoting "jobs, safety, and opportunity."