Clergy find second calling amid climate change protests

“There are so many stories in the Bible where the disciples get into all kinds of trouble and they say, ‘we have to follow what God has called us to do, not what mankind says’.”

Older members of the church also expressed their support.

Last week the Bishop of Bolton, the Most Reverend Mark Ashcroft, said protesters “must be heard”.

“The prophetic voice of Just Stop Oil and other protesters must be heard and should continue to resound until urgent and concrete action is taken to address the impending climate catastrophe,” he said in a video released by the group.

People should “hold the annoyance of the disruptions against the catastrophe that is befalling our planet”, he said.

The Central Church has been less supportive and has sometimes been the target of protests itself.

Last year, Parfitt and Hewes stuck to chairs at Church House, the church’s central London headquarters, to protest his retirement investments in fossil fuels. The Church has said it will divest from companies that fail to make changes in line with the Paris climate change agreement by 2023.

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A Church of England spokesperson declined to comment, but pointed to the Telegraph’s comments by former Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam, who in 2019 said the Church is ‘strongly supporting the cause and the right to demonstrate peacefully, but emphasizes that it does not advocate activity that breaks the law.

Other religious denominations are also represented. Catholic priest and longtime protester Father Martin Newell has also been arrested in connection with the Extinction Rebellion protests.

A series of conferences held across the country with the title “Our Responsibilities Right Now” are often held in Quaker meeting houses and, in some cases, hosted by Quakers.

Quakers in Britain said they “have no corporate position” on Just Stop Oil.

A spokesperson added, “Quakers respect the laws of the state, but believe their primary loyalty is to the purposes of God.

“Many Quakers are driven by their faith to participate in nonviolent direct action for organizations such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion.”