Monday, November 28, 2016
WHATEVER the final result of the huge, long-running protests by native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the demonstrations will surely be remembered as a landmark in relations between organised religion, Christianity in particular, and indigenous people. Along with representatives of over 200 indigenous groups from across the New World, camped out at the Standing Rock Reservation since April, Christian clergy have been adding their voice to the protests in multiple ways.
Given that Pope Francis called for a rapid switch away from fossil fuels in his environmental encyclical, you might expect the radical end of the Catholic church to be the religious community most intensely engaged in this cause. But it is liberal or "mainline" Protestant churches who have made the running. If there is one individual who personifies Christian support for the indigenous protests, it is the Reverend John Floberg, who is responsible for Episcopal (Anglican) parishes on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock.