People of faith at the heart of Extinction Rebellion protests in London, 7-18 October 2019

Expressing their sacred calling to protect the Earth, at the heart of the wider movement.

On Monday 7th October Directors at CAFOD, Christian Aid and Tearfund came and spoke to encourage and pray for protestors on Lambeth Bridge, which had been declared the Faith Bridge. By Monday evening, police had cleared the bridge, arresting Christian, Buddhist and Muslim leaders engaged in peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. 

The ‘Faith Bridge’ then moved to Trafalgar Square, where the Muslim call to prayer, Buddhist meditation, Quaker worship, Christian Eucharists, and Jewish building of the Succah continued throughout the week, each an expression of the call to care for creation at the heart of each faith. 

The Anglican Bishops of Chelmsford and Liverpool joined protestors on the square, with Bishop Paul Bayes leading 20 vicars in reading the complete book of Revelation from the Bible, while Churches across London and the Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Lambeth provided space for protestors to sleep. 

Throughout the week people of faith who’s faith compelled them to non-violent civil disobedience continued to be arrested, including priests and nuns, perhaps none more poignant than the arrests of a 91 year old Quaker, John, and 83 year old Christian, Phil. Others continued in prayer, meditation and witness. On Monday 14th the arrest most widely covered in the media was that of 77 year old Rabbi Jeffrey Newman , longstanding member of the Faith for the Climate Network and founder of Jews for Climate Action. Rabbi Newman, the first Rabbi ever to be arrested in the UK, said “It’s impossible, at least for me, to read the Bible of Prophets without recognising how much we’re rooted in the Earth, in social justice, in an awareness of the world around us, and, attempting to give all that we have on its behalf seems to me the highest calling towards God … if it takes an arrest to help to galvanise public opinion, then it is certainly worth being arrested.”

As the Met Police imposed a Section 14 ban on XR protests across the whole of London, people faith led a late night march past Downing Street to call for our continued right to draw attention to the climate crisis. Media coverage of the witness of people of faith during the rebellion was widespread including in the Jewish News, the Telegraph, the Mirror, the Evening Standard, the Guardian, the Church Times , Christian Today , and Belfast Live, among many others. This podcast from XR includes the voices of many people of faith. 

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