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Christian Climate Action
Church News

Priests face multiple arrests as climate protests ramp up

by Heather Preston

A number of priests have been arrested as they “sound the alarm” on climate change at protests across London.

A retired priest was taken into police custody three times last week after taking part in road marches organised by Just Stop Oil.

The group - who have now entered their twelfth week of protests - are demanding the government halt all new licences and consents for oil, gas, and coal projects in the UK.

Rev Bill White from Macclesfield, who held a sign that read ‘Act out of Love’, was arrested three times across three days consecutive days.

He explains that he feels called by scripture to participate: “As a Christian I am frequently reminded of the command to love my neighbour as myself. In obedience to this I am called to sound the alarm about the climate crisis; but always in a way which is nonviolent, consistent with the teaching and example of Jesus."

White says the authorities are failing humanity by “turning off the climate alarm, rather than addressing the problem that triggered it.”

“So, to be faithful I need to say no to the police officers when they ask me to stop, and keep on walking. I know that I will be arrested and taken into police custody,” he added.

On Monday, retired priest and well-known climate activist Sue Parfitt was also arrested after breaking her bail conditions following previous climate protests. Parfitt explained her motivation for violating her bail: "We’ve all been forced between a rock and a hard place, either we allow climate collapse to happen or we take the risks that come with standing against it with all our might. I chose the latter which has led me here today”.

Elsewhere, members of Christian Climate Action gathered with other climate activists outside Wimbledon’s first gate this week to call on the tennis tournament to drop Barclay’s as its sponsor.

The group claim that Barclays – known to be one of Europe’s leading funders of fossil fuels - is supporting the sport in a bid to “sportswash” its reputation. CCA member Rev Helen Burnett said she was there to raise awareness of the bank's investment in fossil fuel.

Alongside, Make My Money Matter and Fossil Free London, CCA handed out flyers to Wimbledon queuers, put up climate posters and wheeled in a gigantic pink dodo – said to represent the inevitable extinction humans face if action isn’t taken on climate change. 

Burnett explained more about the dodo installation: “We are hurtling eyes wide open towards a catastrophe. The eradication of the dodo was not a massive global event like the one we face, but it was a human-made extinction.

“Today we are looking into an abyss in which millions of species and millions of people will die,” she added.

A motion from the Diocese of Oxford - calling on the Church and the Government to move faster on climate change was passed in General Synod this week.

It calls on all parts of the Church to review all its policies and procedures to prioritise caring for the environment and asks the Government to review planning regulations to aid the installation of renewable technology on church buildings that are listed or in conservation areas.


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