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Photo Credit: Ben Birchall/ PA Wire/PA Images
Photo Credit: Ben Birchall/ PA Wire/PA Images
Photo Credit: Ben Birchall/ PA Wire/PA Images
Photo Credit: Ben Birchall/ PA Wire/PA Images
UK News

'We really feel like we're following in the footsteps of Jesus': Christian wing of Extinction Rebellion gearing up for protests

by Tola Mbakwe

Environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion (XR) plans to target airports and impose roadblocks during the bank holiday weekend as it kicks off a new programme of climate change demonstrations.

Beginning on Friday, a "regional rebellion" over four days will see protests staged across the country, including in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds.

Due to the coronavirus' impact on travel, protesters are encouraged to take action locally, with the aviation sector, banks, the fossil fuel industry and petrol stations as targets. 

Action is expected to include roadblocks, marches, sit-ins, bike rides and picnics, with campaigners emphasising their ethos of "non-violent direct action".

Christian Climate Action (CCA), which is the Christian wing of XR, will also be taking part in demonstrations. Some of the group's activists will be holding vigils. 

A member of CCA, Caroline Harmon, told Premier Christian News just because the world is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn't mean action on climate change should take a back seat. 

"We do very much feel that the climate emergency hasn't gone away," she said. 

"It's still here, scientists are still saying we've got a decade at most to act and that we really need to cut emissions rapidly. If we don't do that, the impacts of climate change will dwarf the impact of COVID-19 unfortunately."

The protests will coincide with the Government introducing hefty fines for anyone organising gatherings that breach social distancing rules from Friday.

Harmon told Premier demonstrations will be done in a way that adhere to the Government's coronavirus guidelines. She added that she feels it's her Christian duty to protest. 

"We really feel that we're following in the footsteps of Jesus and other Christian activists, Martin Luther King, for example. They challenged the authorities of their day, they challenged unjust laws, and they often broke the law in doing that.

"It isn't that we take that lightly, we obviously respect the laws of our land. But there are times when really we have to answer to a higher law, we can't achieve the change that needs achieving without doing that."

Meanwhile, four Anglican vicars and a Catholic priest, who have been arrested for their part in past Extinction Rebellion protests, have said they plan to rebel again this weekend.

Rev Mark Coleman, Rev Kate Gray, Rev David Jenkins, Rev Helen Burnett and Fr Martin Newell said in a joint statement: "It is not okay that instead of taking the action needed, the government has pushed responsibility onto individual 'consumer action' to deal with the threat of climate catastrophe. 

"We know from our experience this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, that after initial delay, government can take a lead to galvanise society and rapidly change behaviour in response to serious threat to life.  So why has our government failed to rise to the moral challenge of the climate emergency?

"As Christians our consciences tell us that we cannot stand by as accomplices to the crime of ecocide being committed around the world. When faced with injustice, Christ spoke up and took action out of compassion, turning over the tables of corrupt money lenders in the temple.  Christ blesses those who "hunger for justice". He tells us the "truth will set us free".

"Faced with a government that doesn't listen and doesn't act, we believe that the only way to let the cries of a dying earth be heard is through non-violent civil disobedience."

Listen to Premier's interview with Caroline Harmon here:  

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