Presiding Bishop tells Standing Rock protectors ‘the way of Jesus honors the water’

North Dakota visit is filled with praying, listening, reflecting

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stands along North Dakota Highway 1806 on Sept. 24 to witness as law enforcement officers arrive at a small anti-Dakota Access Pipeline encampment to arrest people accused of removing no-trespass signs from neighboring ranch land recently purchased by the pipeline construction company. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stands along North Dakota Highway 1806 on Sept. 24 to witness as law enforcement officers arrive at a small anti-Dakota Access Pipeline encampment to arrest people accused of removing no-trespass signs from neighboring ranch land recently purchased by the pipeline construction company. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Editor’s note: An image gallery of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation is here.

[Episcopal News Service – Bismarck, North Dakota] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry came to North Dakota Sept. 24-25 to declare in person that he, the Episcopal Church and, most importantly, God stands with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline that will run under their water supply, over its treaty lands and through some of its burial places.

Curry also called for racial reconciliation in the midst of opposition that has at times surfaced the area’s historical tensions between Indians and non-Indians. He engaged Episcopalians, leaders of other churches, Bismarck residents and its mayor in conversations about racism and environmental justice. He urged people to continue talking with each other after he left.

The Rev. John Floberg told Curry that action against the pipeline is a “kairos moment,” a Greek word meaning God’s appointed time to act. The moment, said Floberg, supervising priest of the Episcopal churches on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, is filled with hope because “God is doing something here” beyond the actual protest.

That something has brought together Standing Rock Indians with members and leaders of at least 250 of the recognized tribes in the United States in an unprecedented show of unity. Many non-Native people have come to join the protests, as well, including Episcopalians from other parts of the country.

And many people are re-exploring how they have traditionally related to each other in the context of the protest that some say is damaging the part of the state’s economy that is dependent on natural-resource extraction, particularly oil and gas, and the jobs the pipeline will provide. Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company building the pipeline, says construction will create 8,000 to 12,000 local jobs, while the AFL-CIO has pegged the number at 4,500.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry reacts Sept. 25 to being told that the people of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, gathered at the church on Nov. 1, 2015 to watch a broadcast of him being installed as the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry reacts Sept. 25 to being told that the people of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, gathered at the church on Nov. 1, 2015, to watch a broadcast of his installation as the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“God is in the movement business,” Curry said during his Sept. 25 sermon at St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “If you look at the Bible very carefully, you will discover that God’s usual way of changing the world – even if it’s just inching it along a little bit – is to create a movement of people who will follow his way.”

The presiding bishop cited Abraham and Sarah whom he said God called to share their way of life with others. The movement of peoples that they began resulted in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the presiding bishop said. He compared the pipeline protest with Moses leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land. God brought down plagues on Pharaoh to protest his refusal to free the Hebrew people from their oppression, Curry said.

“That’s Standing Rock in the Bible. That’s folks standing their ground and saying ‘do not pollute our water,’” he said. “That’s Standing Rock folks saying ‘do not violate our sacred burial places.’”

Then there is the movement Jesus created, Curry said, a movement of people called to practice love, justice, compassion and to try to “look something like Jesus.”

“I’ve got a feeling if we started looking like Jesus, you wouldn’t have to protest here at Standing Rock because the way of Jesus honors the water” through the act of baptism.

 

Visiting Oceti Sakowin Camp
The previous day, Curry; Floberg; Heidi J. Kim, Episcopal Church missioner for racial reconciliation; the Rev. Charles A. Wynder Jr., missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement; the Rev. Michael Hunn, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church; South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant; and Bishop Mark Narum of the ELCA Western North Dakota Synod traveled to Oceti Sakowin Camp along the Cannonball River near where it flows into the Missouri River. (North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith was traveling overseas on a previously planned trip.)

Curry spoke to pipeline opponents, who prefer to call themselves “protectors,” during the camp’s daily information session. He told them that the Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with them because “water is a gift from the creator.”

“Water means life for all of the children of God, human beings who are gifts of the creator,” Curry said, adding that “your struggle is not just your struggle, it is our struggle; it is the struggle of the human community.”

 

The approximately 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline will deliver as much as 570,000 barrels of light sweet crude oil per day from the oil fields in the Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued permits July 26 allowing construction of the pipeline.

Opponents of the pipeline say it poses too great a threat to the environment. The tribe says the pipeline would cross treaty lands, disturb sacred sites and threaten drinking water for 8,000 members who live on the tribe’s nearly 2.3 million-acre reservation. The pipeline would cross under the Missouri River, the tribe’s water source, just outside the Standing Rocking Reservation.

Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline will provide a “more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible” way to transport oil and reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation. At least 42 people were killed in 2013 when a train pulling an estimated two million gallons of crude oil from North Dakota to Canadian refineries derailed in a fiery explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Reuters reported Sept. 23 that its analysis of government data on crude oil spills showed that Sunoco Logistics, the company which will run the pipeline once it is operational, has had more pipeline leaks than any of its competitors. Sunoco leaked crude oil from onshore pipelines at least 203 times over the last six years, Reuter reported.

George Fulford of Mandan, North Dakota, right foreground, speaks during a listening time arranged Sept. 24 for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, center top, at Oceti Skowin Camp. Seated to Curry’s right are South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant and Bishop Mark Narum of the ELCA Western North Dakota Synod. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

George Fulford of Mandan, North Dakota, right foreground, speaks during a listening time arranged Sept. 24 for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, center top, at Oceti Skowin Camp. Seated to Curry’s right are South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant and Bishop Mark Narum of the ELCA Western North Dakota Synod. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Against that backdrop, Curry spent more than an hour sitting in a circle in the Episcopal gathering area at Oceti Sakowin Camp listening to people’s concerns and their hopes for the church’s role in supporting their action.

Rosa Wilson, a Standing Rock Episcopalian, was one of many people who spoke. She described the discrimination she has experienced, including getting beaten up high school and being followed by storeowners in Bismarck when she was young because they thought she would shoplift because she was an Indian.

“What can we do; what can we do to try to make it better? I don’t know if in prayer God will listen to us,” she said. “After 74 years I just have to respect everybody that comes my way and just be a person that gives out love.”

The Oceti Skowin Camp spreads out along the north side of the Cannonball River on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This is the view from Facebook Hill, where media have gathered, where people can charge their electronic devices at a mobile solar panel truck and where one can sometimes get a cell phone signal. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Oceti Sakowin Camp spreads out along the north side of the Cannonball River on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This is the view from Facebook Hill, where media have gathered, where people can charge their electronic devices at a truck with solar panels and where one can sometimes get a cell phone signal. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

One woman came into the circle to challenge church members about their motives in coming to the camp, repeatedly asking what they wanted and whether their goal was to convert Indians.

The Rev. Lauren Stanley, Episcopal priest-in-charge on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, said her eight churches were there to support the protestors however they needed support. When Rosebud Episcopalians heard that the camp needed wood, her church members delivered five cords, she said. They also brought food to the camp and are working to get a generator.

Told on the day of Curry’s visit that the camp needed another log splitter, Stanley said she asked the presiding bishop to pay for it. “So, we’ll have one here in two weeks,” she said.

“Our goal is not to tell anyone anything; our goal is to support you,” she said.

“We are not here to convert you. We are not. We are not the old Christians,” Stanley told the woman, meaning the ones who required Indians to become Christians.

Conversation about struggling with diversity and racism
Before heading to the camp that morning Curry met with local community, educational and religious leaders for a breakfast conversation about the impact of the growing protest on the area and the history of race relations there.

Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary told Curry that about 4,000 the capital city’s 67,000 residents are Native Americans. Non-Native residents “are kind of in denial, and we’re comfortable with that” when it comes to dealing with diversity, he said.

South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant, center, Sept. 24 introduces Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Linda Simon, who attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Simon, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was at Oceti Skowin Camp for the first time. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant, center, Sept. 24 introduces Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Linda Simon, who attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Simon, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was at Oceti Sakowin Camp for the first time. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

He described a meeting with business leaders a few years ago before he became mayor to talk about efforts to fill what were then 7,500 open jobs in the city. The business people discussed going to job fairs in large cities to attract job seekers, Seminary said. When he asked whether they had tried to recruit among local Indians, the mayor said he ran up against unspoken stereotypes about Indians’ employability.

Seminary worshipped at St. James the next day and spoke to the congregation, bringing his pledge of solidarity and his assurance that he prayed each day for the people of Standing Rock. During the  Sept. 24 breakfast meeting, he said that any time Natives and non-Natives come together it’s a way to build relationships. Those relationships could bring the community to a time when the sight of Natives and non-Natives working together would be unremarkable, he said.

That night back in Bismarck, an hour north of the camp, Curry joined close to 50 people at St. George’s Episcopal Church to talk about racism. It was a not-always-comfortable conversation with some tribal members speaking of discrimination they had experienced or witnessed in the city and other participants speaking about their perception of racism and their response to it.

Carmen Goodhouse, a full-blooded Hunkpapa Lakota and a third-generation Episcopalian, said “we were taught that we would always have to defend ourselves because of racism” and not enough has happened to eliminate racism in the area. The Jesus Movement is needed in North Dakota, she said, because “aside from asking Jesus” she doesn’t know how things will change.

Dominic Hanson said he “completely understand[s] that there’s been a lot of racism towards the Natives” but, he said he’s also seen “a lot of racism from the Natives towards whites in general and other races.”

People ought to be open to the possibility that “it’s not a white issue that we aren’t connecting,” Hanson said.

“I think that, as a whole, nobody’s really opening up to anyone and wanting to make those connections,” he said. “And that’s why we’re here today. We’re willing to open up.”

Protests spread through and beyond the reservation
The Diocese of North Dakota has rallied behind the anti-pipeline cause. It issued a statement of support Aug. 19 and diocesan members have been in the three protest camps helping build a unified presence and helping with material needs. Curry followed with a supportive statement, calling the protest action “one that joins the fight for racial justice and reconciliation with climate justice and caring for God’s creation as a matter of stewardship.” The nine Episcopal churches on Standing Rock Reservation issued a letter Sept. 5 expressing their solidarity with the Sioux Nation.

Leona Volk, of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, South Dakota, greets Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Sept. 24 at Oceti Skowin Camp. Volk has grandchildren who live on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation near where the Dakota Access Pipeline would pass. “It’s got to stop here, now,” she said. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Leona Volk, of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, South Dakota, greets Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Sept. 24 at Oceti Sakowin Camp. Volk has grandchildren who live on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation near where the Dakota Access Pipeline would pass. “It’s got to stop here, now,” she said. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The rallies and protests have gone beyond North Dakota. Clean-water advocates, allies of indigenous peoples and supporters of the No Dakota Access Pipeline movement, hashtag #NoDAPL, have staged rallies across the country. The action has attracted the attention of Congress, the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations and celebrities.

In a 48-hour span last week Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II testified in Geneva, Switzerland, at the U.N. Human Rights Council and in Washington, D.C., in front of the U.S. House of Representatives’ natural resources committee. The U.N. rights group said Sept. 22 after Archambault’s testimony that the United States should stop construction on the pipeline because of its environmental and cultural threats, and because the Standing Rock Sioux Nation had not been treated properly during the permitting process.

Archambault was scheduled to be at St. James on Sept. 25 but Floberg said he was in Washington, D.C. dealing with pipeline issues.

As of Sept. 26, close to 1,300 archeologists, museum officials, academics and students have signed on to a letter addressed to the Obama administration calling for a thorough environmental impact statement and cultural resources survey of the pipeline’s route in proper consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

A battle fought in the courts
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court on Sept. 16 ordered Energy Transfer Partners to stop construction within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, the dammed section of the Missouri River under which the pipeline will pass, to allow the court more time to consider the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an emergency injunction to prevent further destruction of sacred sites within 20 miles on both sides of the lake.

The tribe requested the emergency injunction after U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg Sept. 9 denied its request for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the pipeline while the tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permitting the pipeline is being considered.

Within hours of the Sept. 9 ruling, three federal agencies said they would stop construction and asked Energy Transfer Partners to “voluntary pause” work on government land, land that tribal officials say contains sacred burial sites and artifacts.

The federal agencies also said that the case highlights the need for serious discussion regarding reform aimed at incorporating tribes’ views on such infrastructure projects, including better ways to include tribes’ input about land and resource protections, and treaty rights. The agencies will “invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations.” The National Historic Preservation Act requires that level of consultation with tribes.

The situation in and near the camps continues to evolve. On Sept. 22 Energy Transfer Partners bought more than 6,000 acres, including land involved in one of the few violent incidents of the protest, from ranchers David and Brenda Meyer, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Protestors clashed with private security guards hired by Energy Transfer Partners on Sept. 3 as the company began to dig on land the tribe had told the court the day before was sacred and has served as a burial ground. Law enforcement officials said four security guards and two guard dogs were injured, while a tribal spokesman said the dogs bit six people and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed, the Associated Press reported.

The Bismarck paper said the Meyers told a local television station that they sold the land for liability reasons, that there were too many people on his property all the time and that it was a beautiful ranch but he “just wanted out.”

A North Dakota State Trooper records members of the presiding bishop’s staff as they stand along North Dakota Highway 1806 on Sept. 24 while law enforcement officers arrest two men at a small anti-Dakota Access Pipeline encampment. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

A North Dakota State Trooper records members of the presiding bishop’s staff as they stand along North Dakota Highway 1806 on Sept. 24 while law enforcement officers arrest two men at a small anti-Dakota Access Pipeline encampment. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Two days later, the presiding bishop and his staff stopped along North Dakota Highway 1806 on Sept. 24 on their way back to Bismarck to witness as law enforcement officers arrived in nine vehicles at a small pipeline protest encampment. As a helicopter circled overhead, they calmly arrested two men, accusing them of removing no-trespassing signs from the fences bordering the disputed land. Officers and protestors recorded each other’s actions. One state trooper also recorded members of the presiding bishop’s staff as they stood along the highway.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

 

Comments

  1. From the Reuters article referenced in the article above, I have included some quotes. There is a mixed bag of information to be sure, and the oil company is not a knight in shining armor. The protestors are right to raise questions and of course have a right to peaceful protests, especially in light of Sunoco’s history of spills. But, to trespass on private property and destroy equipment is certainly not holy work. Bottom line for me is that as long as Sunoco can provide assurance to regulators that the safety measures and technology they have in place are such that a leak can be detected and dealt with , without jeopardizing water quality in the cannonball area, I see no problem with the construction. If they can’t, then the project needs to be delayed until it can prove so. That said, there is no hard evidence of racism or evil agenda involved. Comparing the oil companies to Pharoah and the “protectors” to the Israelites is a bit misguided. I thereby scold Curry for doing so. He certainly doesn’t speak for me in this particular instance. He’s a nice man and all, but sometimes speaks with hyperbole when restraint is called for.

    1. Sunoco and Enterprise both said most leaks take place within company facilities and are therefore contained..

    2. Sunoco’s spill rate shows protestors may have reason to be concerned about potential leaks.

    3. The main option that was considered for routing the line away from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation was previously discarded because it would involve crossing more water-sensitive areas north of the capital Bismarck, according to the project’s environmental assessment.

    4. To be sure, most pipeline spills are small and pipelines are widely seen as a safer way to move fuel than alternatives such as rail.

    5. Sunoco and its units leaked a total of 3,406 net barrels of crude in all the leaks over the last six years, only a fraction of the more than 3 million barrels lost in the largest spill in U.S. history, BP Plc’s (BP.L) Macondo well disaster in 2010.

    6. Sunoco said it found that crude lines not in constant use were a significant source of leaks, so it had shut or repaired some of those arteries.

    7. In September, Sunoco received another corrective measure for its newly constructed Permian Express II line in Texas, which leaked 800 barrels of oil earlier this month. The company is already contesting a proposed $1.3 million fine from regulators for violations related to welding on that line.

    • Ann Christenson says:

      There is one, simple, overriding principle here: We MUST keep fossil fuel in the ground. The extraction and use of fossil fuels is destroying our planet.

    • Shari Abshire says:

      Rich Basta….You see no problem with construction ? So it’s ok to bulldoze graves ? Numerous laws were ignored when permits were granted. There are 11 protected species on this land ( the Army Corp of Engineers was told there were none )…Sacred sites…not to mention the drinking water of millions. The President asked that all construction be halted till an investigation could be done. Dakota Access agreed, and two days later started work again. The people are chaining themselves to equipment because that is the only way to stop construction. The courts have ordered it stopped…but no one will enforce this. ALL pipelines leak ! And why do I care ? I live in Louisiana, were there is still over 100,000,000 gallons of BP oil in the gulf ! I thank the Episcopal Church from the bottom of my heart.

    • So the route that Sunoco turn down would run north and by pass the Indian land. If Sunoco said the pipe is leak free why not try it. I bet it would cost more money and possible law suits so why not destroy the land that the Indian own. So nobody would care …..WRONG. It would be cheaper to move the pipe line then all of the media news cover and now a possible HUGE law suit against both company . Think of All of the downtime,overtime pay and delays that YOU had to pay for not to mention legal expense. Move the pipe line ,it will be cheaper in the long run.

  2. Jon Spangler says:

    Thank you, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop John Tarrant, the Rev. John Floberg, the Rev. Lauren Stanley, and to all the people of the local Episcopal churches standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies against the ruination of sacred land, water, and burial grounds.

    It is good and right and just that we stand with the Creation and against its destruction.

  3. One can certainly agree the oil line is an inexcusable trespass upon the indigenous people of that
    area, tribal land, and sacred burial areas. All oil companies have a record of leaking pipes, most recently within Yellowstone National Park beneath an existing river. The church is correct in standing
    with those opposing the pipe line. Congress is once again indifferent to the body politic in support
    of tribal lands and traditions. Maybe, voting the members out of office, Senate and House, might
    send a message to that foundering body. The news media has voiced nothing regarding the issue.
    We simply don’t need the oil that badly, and perhaps time time to put the petroleum industry in it’s
    proper place. The onset of hydrogen fueled automobiles may take care of the problem. One could ask, how would you like an oil line coming down your street ? Think about it. Congress ? For God so
    loved the world, that he didn’t send a lawyer.

  4. Glenn Johnson says:

    Amen. I cannot adequately express my admiration for our Presiding Bishop for taking such a strong stand in behalf of the earth and its people.

  5. Richard McClellan says:

    If it were all about “protecting creation” then I expect the good Bishop will be protesting outside an abortion clinic soon.

  6. Terry Francis says:

    Don’t hold your breath Richard. Remember, Rev Curry is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, where abortion is not only tolerated, but celebrated.

    • Mary Frances Schjonberg says:

      The Episcopal Church’s stance on abortion was set by the General Convention 28 years ago. Resolution 1988-C047 states in part “While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience. In those cases where an abortion is being considered, members of this Church are urged to seek the dictates of their consciences in prayer, to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community and where appropriate the sacramental life of this Church. Whenever members of this Church are consulted with regard to a problem pregnancy, they are to explore, with grave seriousness, with the person or persons seeking advice and counsel, as alternatives to abortion, other positive courses of action, including, but not limited to, the following possibilities: the parents raising the child; another family member raising the child; making the child available for adoption.” (http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution-complete.pl?resolution=1988-C047 )

      Related to the resolution’s urging ” to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community and where appropriate the sacramental life of this Church,” General Convention in 2009 authorized use of liturgies entitled “Rachel’s Tears, Hannah’s Hopes,” part of the Enriching Our Worship series. Those liturgies, litanies and prayers are here: https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/liturgies-and-prayers-related-to-childbearing/enrichingourworship5.pdf

      • Doug Desper says:

        Mary Frances: As true as this is in theory it is odd to have the Dean (now formerly) of one of our seminaries state:

        “And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing.

        “These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.”

        from a sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale,
        former Dean of Episcopal Divinity School
        (Source Episcopal Divinity School sermon blog).

        Perhaps Dr. Ragsdale did not get the intent of the “grave seriousness” of the Church’s stance: “We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience”.
        Regardless, she is no longer the Dean of that school.
        And, that school will cease to grant degrees after 2017.

  7. wow, trolls here too! #nodapl!!!

  8. Richard McClellan says:

    I would like to offer a sincere apology for my hateful comments. I suffer from depression and am not at peace with myself and it shows in my reactions. I humbly apologize.

  9. Nye Ffarrabas says:

    Mr. McClellan, your apology seems indeed to be sincere, and for that you are to be sincerely thanked. I wish more of us were so willing to ‘fess up and retract hurtful words with such humility! Nevertheless, it is also true that you adroitly drew a conversational red herring across the thread, and effectively stopped a worthwhile discussion in its tracks. I regret that loss. Important thoughts were in progress, here, but perhaps even here there is a common thread: Not only the rights, but the worth of First Nation people are being trampled at Standing Rock. Similarly, not only the rights, but the worth of women are jeopardized, and if some people had their way, would be obliterated as a result of the abortion “question” and its implacable opponents. Clearly, neither the White settlers and their descendants, nor many of the males in our society, have had occasion to consider matters from the others’ point of view; curious how privilege blinds people to compassion – or even comprehension – about the predicaments of others, and slams shut, and locks, mental doors! I’m put in mind of a bumper sticker I once saw: IF MEN COULD HAVE BABIES, ABORTION WOULD BE A SACRAMENT! Think about that for a minute before you blow your stack! The hue and cry against abortion not only negates the worth of a woman who has found herself trapped in an untenable position (whatever her circumstances), it can condemn a child, through no fault of its own, to a lifetime of rejection and resentment and a nagging sense of being worthless and unwanted. Nor is adoption or fosterage a cure-all for such things. Many who take unwanted children have terrible agendas of their own. I suspect – actually, I know it in my (elderwoman’s) bones – that all the hooraw against abortion boils down to one underlying motive and that is, Keep the women down on the farm – barefoot and pregnant – so men can be free to rule the world! Well, we’ve had enough of that, thank you very much, we’d like to have OUR lives, too! But now look at the situation of Native Americans through the same set of lenses. Thousands of years of thriving on the land with laws and spirituality and living ‘in synch’ with the land and other life-forms – suddenly and violently overthrown by greedy, lawless invaders who have neither respect nor comprehension for the ways of Indigenous Peoples. “Kill the damn bison (on which they subsist) – they get in the way of our railroads!” And so on, and so on, deep into the degradation of the Native way of life. (And – will we NEVER LEARN? – it’s happening AGAIN! ) So, ‘uppity’ women and downtrodden Natives have some common cause, here: As long as we are DOWN, somebody else is UP. Men, White men, especially, have been running their ‘entitlement’ into the ground. Greed has replaced common decency. And all to the tune of the mythology of supremacy. It is a LIE! It only exists to support the greed and entitlement of the few. And it is taking our country down, and despoiling the land, water, and air on which we depend for our very existence. Heck, it’s taking down other life-forms by extinction, every day! And – did I mention? – Our precious planet is beyond sustainable subsistence, RIGHT NOW! We blew past the Seven Billion mark quite recently, and are on an ever-escalating charge toward Nine Billion. Not in MY lifetime (I’m in my 80s), but maybe in YOURS. Now, doesn’t THAT throw some sobering perspective upon the abortion ‘question’? And the ‘Right-to-Lifers’ have the cheek to scream that all life is sacred? And THAT’s their excuse for arguing for unlimited baby production? NO! It’s all a rationalization to keep women (79 cents on the dollar, if they’re lucky – altho’ they shouldn’t really be in the work force at all – they should be home minding the babies!) … to keep them in their ‘place’ which is the Underclass. Get it? Now, isn’t it exactly the same game, against Native Americans and other Indigenous Peoples? Don’t we have some common cause, here? I think it is about time we all woke up and really examined the assumptions that drive so much of our lives. Career religious people, included, because the ‘institution’ of the church, in its various forms, is also one of the main forces that keep patriarchy going, full steam.

  10. Love you, Michael. Keep it up!

  11. Lesley Hildrey says:

    Please let us know how we can help and support these people? I am not brave enough to stand and protest with them after the police attacks of the last few days but would still like to be of some use. What do they need?

  12. I assume our Presiding Bishop walked to North Dakota. Oh wait, he used lots of petroleum products to get there and uses a lot in his large home, church, and vacation home? Hmmm. Interesting.

  13. Dianne Iverson says:

    THANK you Bishop MIchael for STANDING up for the Earth. I am continually amazed at all the negative comments, because those tribes and thousands of other people are STANDING UP for EVERYONE’s water. They are Standing Up against major money interests. They are Standing Up for this Earth that is falling apart under our feet, that SO NEEDS ALL of our Protection. Fossil Fuels are killing our planet. This pipeline alone will emit more carbons into the atmosphere than 27 coal burning plants. We CAN and MUST CHANGE. We simply HAVE TO switch to Sustainable Energies or politics won’t matter any longer because the earth is at a tipping point and will not be able to recover. I SO appreciate your wisdom and commitment to make clean water a priority over our stubborn old ways, that NEED to change. We do NOT need OIL to survive. EVERYTHING that relies on oil now can be replace with sustainable practices and energies. Why is Everyone SO AFRAID to change?

Speak Your Mind

*

Full names required. Read our Comment Policy. General comments and suggestions about Episcopal News Service, as well as reports of commenting misconduct, can be e-mailed to news@episcopalchurch.org.