Breaking news: Today religious leaders have been arrested at Maules Creek, for blocking access to the mine site. We need to tell their story – please take a moment to share the images below on social media, and forward this email to friends and family.
When Bill McKibben toured Australia last year, he frequently reflected that one of the most heartening aspects of the massive civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States was that it wasn’t just young people leading it. He saw ‘elders acting like elders’ and religious leaders, stepping up to protect the future of their grandchildren and the planet.
Today, we have seen this here in Australia. Religious leaders – four Uniting Church Ministers, two Priests, one Catholic and one Buddhist, and a number of lay people – made the long trip to Maules Creek in northwest New South Wales to hold a prayer vigil at the gates to Whitehaven Coal’s mine construction site. They’ve added their voices to those of the traditional owners of the land — the Gomeroi people — who believe their sacred sites in the Leard Forest are being destroyed, to call for the mine to be stopped.
Following the vigil, some of the religious leaders joined locals and supporters to block the entrance to the mine site, turning away trucks and heavy equipment. Several of those religious leaders were then arrested and detained by Police. One of those people was Thea Ormerod, head of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change and grandmother of six. Thea has written an amazing op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald, which has just gone live in the last hour. In that she said:
“You may ask how such a group could endorse anything so radical, but this is a well-worn path for people of faith….The movement to wind down coal-mining in Australia may be counter-cultural but it is the truly conservative one. Its aim is to keep the Earth’s ecosystems more or less intact for those who suffer the impact of climate change in developing countries, for our own young people here and for future generations. Not a radical position at all.”
Today’s events acknowledge that every legitimate avenue to stop the open-cut coal mine near Maules Creek has failed. Even though not one of the 212 submissions from the community supported the mine, the mine has been approved. And with climate policy being slashed by the Government, there comes a time where we have to make personal sacrifices to protect our future. That time has come.
Can you take a moment to tell your networks, family and friends why you stand with Thea, and share the courageous action that she and the other people of faith took today?
Click on the image above or here to share on Facebook. And for those that don’t pray, but are ready to stand with Thea, here’s an alternative image, captioned “I stand with Thea”.
The 350.org Australia team is heading to Maules Creek this weekend to join the Leard blockade protest. We hope you might be able to consider making it out there soon too!
Aaron, Blair, Charlie, Josh, Phil, and many others