Five Christian women have held a nativity-themed climate change protest inside the National Gallery in London. The members of Christian Climate Action stood in front of a 15th-century Filippino Lippi painting of the Virgin and Child which depicts Mary seated in a landscape feeding Jesus. They held a poster of the painting altered to show a climate-ravaged landscape and handed out postcards with this image and some facts about the impact of the climate crisis on the world’s children.
The women, all members of Christian Climate Action, began their protest by singing Silent Night with altered words. They then spoke for the world's children as victims of war and climate injustice and held a silent, prayerful presence. They didn’t touch the actual painting.
Sue Hampton, 67, a Quaker, writer, mother and grandmother, said:
‘As Christians we celebrate the birth of Jesus, born in poverty as a refugee, to show us the way of love and peace, and justice which is love in action. Christmas is still for the children. But today, world leaders are failing them. Babies born in the Global South, still waiting for climate reparations and most at risk of unliveable heat, hunger, drought, flooding and displacement. The altered image we held beside Lippi’s painting shows the terrifying reality children face. Sentiment, tradition and festivity won’t save us. The science is clear that new gas, oil or coal will accelerate climate breakdown. We can’t serve God unless we serve that truth, unless we work for life, justice and peace – with love.’
Sarah MacDonald 56, who is a minister, said:
‘At Christmas, Christians celebrate the gift of Life. We need to honour and protect all Life - the lives of all our children - now more than ever.’
Judith Russenberger, 61, an Anglican from East Sheen, London, said:
‘It is too easy to forget the plight of most children in the world when we are wrapped up in our Christmas celebrations.’