Churches weigh in on no new mines campaign
People might not usually expect to see a sign opposing new coal mines outside a church. Only a sign outside Fr Rod Bower’s church in Gosford wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, and indeed one can be seen there.
Now South Sydney Uniting Church, St George’s Anglican Church in Paddington and Pitt Street Uniting Church have joined other faith communities around Australia in putting up signs.
The campaign was initiated by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a national multi-faith charity working to achieve real action on the climate emergency facing the world.
“We are supporting the ARRCC campaign to oppose coal mining in Australia, including the Adani coal mine,” said Geoff Maddox, Co-Chairperson at the Pitt Street Uniting Church. “Pitt Street seeks to care for God’s creation which is rapidly being destroyed especially by carbon pollution. As people of faith we regard this as a moral challenge requiring urgent action.”
Thea Ormerod, ARRCC Chair said: “ARRCC believes that putting up a sign outside a religious building, especially during a federal election campaign, is a very effective way of sending a message to both the community and candidates for parliament. That is, there is widespread community concern about continued coal mining, especially new mines.”
ARRCC has been campaigning on climate change for eleven years now, bringing together Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Faith communities participating in the current campaign are displaying a range of signs, such as: “Real climate action means #StopAdani”, “Fossil fuels, especially coal, need to be replaced” – a quote from Pope Francis, “No new coal mines – care for creation”, “Love our neighbour – quit coal”, “No new coal – this is a climate emergency”, and “No new Galilee Basin mines”.
This initiative follows three “funerals for coal”, held by ARRCC, outside the offices of Labor MPs Chris Bowen, Tony Burke and Bill Shorten. These MPs were chosen as ARRCC believes that the ALP policy on opposition to coal mining is not strong enough, even though the party’s targets for renewables and reducing emissions are more ambitious than those of the Coalition.
A number of faith leaders associated with ARRCC have publicly stated that they are prepared to be arrested, if necessary, in nonviolent protests if the Adani mine goes ahead.
“Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. ARRCC argues that we have a moral responsibility to prevent coal exports from the Galilee Basin, even if it is burned overseas. We all share the same atmosphere,” said Ms Ormerod.
The organisation is specifically concerned about Adani’s mine and rail project because it would open up the Galilee Basin to coal mining. ARRCC leaders have met the CEO of Adani Australia to raise their concerns, given Mr Janakaraj’s Christian faith.