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Christian Climate Action
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Christian Climate Action
World News

'We follow God not the law of the land', says Christian climate campaigner as new protest orders come into force

by Donna Birrell

A prominent Christian climate campaigner has said new powers restricting the right to protest won't deter climate activists, as it’s more important to be “divinely obedient” than to follow the law of the land when it comes to protecting creation.

Ruth Jarman from Christian Climate Action (CCA) was speaking to Premier as new public order powers to prevent “disruptive” protests in the UK have come into force.

The Serious Disruption Prevention Orders are aimed at preventing people from repeatedly causing serious disruption at protests, such as sit-in protests on motorways or attaching themselves to aircraft.

Ms Jarman said: “It’s really interesting the words they've used. They say they want to protect the public and of course that is the most important job of the government, to protect the lives of its citizens. But the government is actually breaking its own laws on climate and not protecting its citizens from climate change. All the protests are trying to do is to make the government adhere to its own laws and protect the public from climate breakdown.

“So we have to protest. We have to say, actually, God's laws of loving our neighbour and of protecting the world that he has made, and that law is more important than adhering to the letter of the law of the land.”

In recent months members of Christian Climate Action have taken part in numerous protests, including a 240 vigil outside the Palace of Westminster which was attended by hundreds of people, including bishops.

In May 2023, eight members of CCA were arrested for causing traffic disruption, and five were later arrested for marching to demand that the British government halts all licences and consents for new oil, gas and coal projects.

In October 2022, retired vicar Rev Mark Coleman was sentenced to five weeks in prison for his part in an Insulate Britain climate change demonstration which brought the City of London to a standstill.

Ruth Jarman said standing up for creation justice is part of following God: “As Christians we believe in the loving God and we are called to love our neighbour. And that has got to trump everything else, even possibly following the law of the land.

“It may mean we have to be more creative, perhaps in our protesting. But on the whole, this isn't going to curb what we're likely to see in the future with regard to climate protests. Civil disobedience can be seen as being divinely obedient to God. If the one counteracts the other, we have to choose to obey God.”

The orders can be imposed on those who have, on at least two occasions, committed protest-related offences. Breaching an order will carry a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

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