As much as Boris Johnson tries to dismiss Extinction Rebellion protestors and uncooperative crusties. it is becoming ever clear that standing up for the future of people and planet is the right thing to do. This September Rebellion, we were joined on the ground by a whole host of clergy, who each shared why they felt compelled to take part.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams explains why he thinks Christians should be involved in the rebellion: “People of faith should be here because they are people of faith. That is, they believe they can make a difference of some kind and that that difference is worth making. At the moment we’re at a remarkable moment of opportunity. People are talking about building back better. We have to take the opportunity. It’s not just recovering what’s been lost but building again something that is genuinely more sustainable. Because in the last few months we have seen the possibility of some alternatives that might work and I think people of faith ought to be on board with making those alternatives work, taking that moment of opportunity.”
Two bishops also took part of the rebellions – Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, attended the opening ceremony on the evening of the 31st August and Paul Hendricks, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark, attended an ecumenical prayer service which was held during the protest.
Bishop Olivia said: “It’s increasingly clear to an increasing number of people that our planet and human race are facing and existential crisis. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here with other people of faith to stand in solidarity, hope and love and to surround the extinction rebellion witness with our prayers.”
Fr Martin Newell, a Catholic priest from Birmingham, was arrested during the Extinction Rebellion protest for blocking the road outside of parliament. Prior to his arrest he explained why he took part:
‘The Christian faith is not an easy one – we are constantly called to step outside of our comfort zone. I believe that being faithful means taking a stand on the biggest issue of our time. When Jesus said to James and John, “Follow me,” they stood up, dropped their fishing nets and did just that. As disciples of Christ, we are called to take action. Are we willing to stand up and do what we are called to or will we remain in the boat?’
On Wednesday 9th September, people blocked the entrances to the Houses of Parliament, while Boris Johnson was entering for Prime Ministers’ questions. Some of those involved glued themselves to railings of the entrance gates. One gate was blocked by two Christians – Rev Sue Parfitt is a 77 year old vicar from Bristol and Ben Buse is Christian and research associate, also from Bristol. Both Sue and Ben were arrested by police.
Before her arrest, vicar Rev Sue Parfitt, aged 77 said: ‘I do not want to be lying outside parliament today, but if I can use such an action to raise the alarm and demand that the government act faster to save the planet for future generations, I must do so. Time is running out fast. Each day, including today, some part of the human race and the creaturely world was and is in imminent danger.
‘As a follower of the radical, prophetic Jesus who cares deeply for the Creation God has made and has entrusted to our care, I know that I must stand firm and that I must continue to follow His prophetic call whatever the cost – I can do no other.’
On the ground we are often asked why we have decided to take part in the rebellion. However, when we are talking about the suffering of Gods creation, the real question is how can someone not?
There are many roles to get involved with, both from home and on the ground, and we would love for you to join us.