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Christians join disruptive protests in London over climate change

23 November 2018

‘We need to take action to demonstrate the seriousness of climate change’


Phil Kingston, 82, is led away from the Brazilian Embassy by police

Phil Kingston, 82, is led away from the Brazilian Embassy by police

CHRISTIANS have been among thousands of people protesting on the subject of climate change as part of the “Extinction Rebellion” over the past fortnight.

A wave of environmentalist activists has blocked roads, shut down bridges, and protested outside Government departments.

Among its supporters is the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams. In a letter to The Guardian last month, Lord Williams and other signatories said: “The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible, and it is unconscionable to us that our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of an unprecedented disaster of our own making. . .

“When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself” (News, 16 November).

On Wednesday of last week, five Christians, Ruth Jarman, Phil Kingston, Fr Martin Newell, Richard Barnard, and Nick Cooper, were among protesters arrested outside Downing Street.

CCAChristian Climate Action protestors are tackled

The same five also took part in mass direct action which resulted in the closure of five bridges in central London: Blackfriars, Lambeth, Waterloo, Westminster, and Southwark.

Eighty-two were arrested in one of the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in the UK for decades.

On Wednesday, a protest blocked roads at five different points in London during the rush hour. Activists went to Lambeth and Southwark Bridges, Elephant and Castle, Earls Court, and Tower Bridge to stop traffic.

Fr Martin, a Roman Catholic priest, said on Wednesday morning said that “small things [to try and stop climate change] are great, but radical change is needed”.

He was at the protest at Elephant and Castle, which “went well”. “A lot of people realised that climate change is something that is very important, and it is crucial and urgent that we take action now,” he said.

“We need to take action to demonstrate the seriousness of climate change. What we are doing is abusing and destroying God’s creation. The earth is our neighbour, and we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves. In the history of the church [this] is not unusual.”

He continued: “This is not just an emotional outburst, there is a theory and a plan behind this — non-violent protest can create radical change.

“As things get worse, there is going to be a lot more action on climate change. It’s really important the police understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

On Saturday, Ms Jarman attended Westminster Magistrates Court, as the first individual to attend court as part of the Extinction Rebellion protest. She was released on unconditional bail. Her trial is due to take place on 2 January.

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