Christian Action Over Climate Emergency

1 May 2021

By Dr Euan McPhee

A century ago, women were prepared to put themselves at risk for the right for women to vote. Would women have got the vote if the Suffragettes had not protested? Probably, but not as rapidly as did happen.

Will the climate protesters of today be viewed in like manner? And are the actions that they are taking justified? Or should we actually be asking the question – is inaction in the face of the Climate Emergency justified? As in the parable of the sheep and the goats, those who did not act despite the obvious need said “Lord, when did we see you hungry and not feed you…?” (Matthew 25:31-46).

Today (Saturday 1 May 2021), five Christians in different parts of the country put their beliefs to the test and engaged in an act non-violent direct action. Here is a brief account of the action of one of them.

Five ordinary Christians in four different locations across the UK stopped traffic as they sat in the road today in protest at the lack of action over the climate emergency. Caroline Harmon in Loughborough and Ben in Dorchester were arrested for obstructing the highway. They were amongst hundreds of people across the UK blocking roads locally to say they will no longer stand by while the UK government lies to the public about its tepid plans to tackle the climate crisis and protect creation, two years after Parliament declared a climate emergency.

Ben in Dorchester, Ruth Urbanowicz in Brighton, Julie Stamford in London, Joe Peall in Ipswich and Caroline Harmon in Loughborough, all Christians, stopped traffic for approximately an hour each by peacefully sitting in the road wearing signs that expressed their fears for the situation. Caroline’s sign said:

‘I am terrified for the future of my child because of the climate crisis’

Their action was part of an approach developed during the Covid-19 pandemic by members of Extinction Rebellion, in which people can engage in civil disobedience to highlight the crisis, alone yet united.

In a statement to explain why she was taking this action, Caroline Harmon, in Loughborough, said:

‘We’re hurtling towards a future, a horrible future, that I don’t want my child to have to live in. I hate to think I will inconvenience people today but we’re going to have to inconvenience ourselves much more to tackle this properly. Sitting in the road is my desperate attempt to see us do what we need to do to protect the creation God has given us to steward.’”

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