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UK News

Christians arrested as former Archbishop joins Extinction Rebellion protesters in London

by Premier Journalist

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has joined with climate change protesters Extinction Rebellion for their 'September Uprising' event. The march, which began at Buckingham Palace and ended in Parliament Square, resulted in the arrest of several Christians.

Williams said: “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.”

Willams was involved in holding a banner that declared, ‘CREATION CRIES OUT’, while other members of Christian Climate Action began attempting to block off the roads around Parliament Square. As ar result, five believers were arrested, including Catholic priest, Fr Martin Newell.

"The Christian faith is not an easy one – we are constantly called to step outside of our comfort zone," Newell said prior to being detained. "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?’" 

Ben Buse, a research associate and Anglican from Bristol, was also arrested. He said: "I’m aware that I am deeply complicit, but now that I’m aware I cannot stand back and watch the beautiful Earth be destroyed - nor allow the impact on vulnerable people and the loss of ancestral lands as has already started. I believe in a God who in self-giving love created everything, who hears the cry of the oppressed and calls us to serve creation and one another. I must join in demanding change."

Paul Kunert, a father of three from Kent who was also arrested at the protest, said: "I've never been arrested before, but I see no other way to get the government to take this seriously. We're sleep-walking into a global-heating catastrophe. We need to change now, before it's too late.”

Image: Paul Kunert being arrested by police outside of parliament

Two bishops have taken part in the current series of Extinction Rebellion action, with Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, attending the opening ceremony and Paul Hendricks, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark, attending an ecumenical prayer service 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.”

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