Christians and Climate Change: Nonviolence in Action Practical Workshop

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Saturday 13th November, 1-4pm
Quaker Meeting House, Lower Hall
119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Gold coin entry

Learn about:

  • Why nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu is a legitimate response to the climate crisis
  • The spirituality, theology and power of nonviolent direct action (NVDA)
  • NVDA principles, skills and tactics
  • How to get involved in potential actions, including the Climate Camp


  • Justin Whelan, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
  • Simon Roz, World Vision
  • Catherine Cresswell, Bluegreen Media

Climate Camp:

Ordinary people around the world are participating in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, at coal infrastructure, government offices, carbon exchanges and more. In early December, people from all walks of life will come together in the Hunter Valley for the ‘Camp for Climate Action 2010‘ – five days of learning, planning and sustainable living, culminating in a peaceful mass action at Bayswater power station. Among those participating are Christians, who are moved by the urgency of climate change and the failures of the political process to address it, and by a long Christian legacy of nonviolence.

Download the flyer here

And here is a short blurb for inserting into church notices and bulletins:

Christians and Climate Change: Nonviolence in Action Practical Workshop

Learn about nonviolent direct action (NVDA) in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu, why NVDA is a legitimate response to the climate crisis, NVDA tactics, and how you can get involved in potential actions.  Saturday 13th November, 1-4pm.  Quaker Meeting House, 119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills.  For more information see

Christians, Climate Change and Nonviolence

coal power station vigil

Saturday 15th August, 1-4pm
Quaker Meeting House, Lower Hall
119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills

Learn about:

  • Why nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu is a legitimate response to the climate crisis
  • The spirituality and theology of nonviolent direct action (NVDA)
  • The power of NVDA
  • How to get involved in potential actions


  • Justin Whelan, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
  • Jonathan Moylan, Rising Tide
  • Catherine Cresswell, Greenpeace
  • Anne and Ian Hodgson, climate activists

Gold coin entry

For more info contact Miriam by email or 0447 730 772

Ordinary people around the world are participating in nonviolent direct action at coal infrastructure, government offices, carbon exchanges and more. Among them are Christians, who are moved by the urgency of climate change and the failures of the political process to address it, and by a long Christian legacy of nonviolence.

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

We all know that times change, and what was acceptable in one era may not be acceptable in another. You have heard of how it was once legal to own other people, how it was illegal for women to vote. Well one way or another we are going to have to stop burning coal and move on from the fossil fuel era. And that means that the law will eventually have to change and acknowledge the harm that carbon emissions do to all of us, by making them illegal. The only question is whether the law will catch up in time for there to be anything left to protect.” (Closing Statement, Drax 22)

Download the Flyer here

Please pass on to your friends!

Climate Change: A Call to Action

With Ross Garnaut finding a conclusion that doesn’t match his own evidence, the challenge for the climate movement is to move quickly and strategically to ensure the Rudd Government does not settle on a weak target (eg. 10% by 2020) for CO2 emissions.

I propose that the time has come for a large-scale campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience.

This proposal is based on the following analysis:

  1. The window of opportunity for this issue lasts from now until, at best, June 2009, when legislation for the emissions trading scheme will have passed. Within this timeframe, the key time is right now, because from about early November at the latest the government will have settled on its target.
  2. The government has demonstrated it is not capable of hearing rational policy advice and is paralysed by the size of the problem and the power of the big polluting industries.
  3. Large-scale, targeted, strategic nonviolent civil disobedience has helped shift the parameters of debates time and again. Indeed, studies of progressive social change suggest that such change is in fact dependent on significant disruption to the political system.

Each of these arguments is spelled out in more detail below.

Before turning to the analysis, I’ve also given some preliminary thought to some of the issues behind making such a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience strategic, rather than merely symbolic. You can read those thoughts here.

But mostly I want you to think deeply about what you can do in the coming weeks and months. If this is, as Kevin Rudd says, “the greatest moral challenge of our time”, what are you prepared to do to ensure we get it right?

Continue reading “Climate Change: A Call to Action”

Strategic nonviolent action on climate change

Climate change activists blocking Newcaslte Coal Port
Climate change activists blocking Newcaslte Coal Port

On the train today I was mulling over what a strategic campaign of NVDA might look like on climate change, rather than just a bunch of random symbolic actions (good as they are).

It seems to me that NVDA plays a strategic role when it exerts pressure on the political system.

For this to happen, it would need a few things:

Continue reading “Strategic nonviolent action on climate change”

Nonviolent direct action shuts down coal port

Peaceful protest on coal line in Newcastle
Peaceful protest on coal line in Newcastle

Last weekend Jarrod and I were both able to attend the Climate Action Camp in Newcastle, the highlight of which was shutting down the railway feeding the world’s largest coal port for a few hours (unconfirmed: over 24 hours as the police were apparently still searching for people overnight!)

Jarrod played an awesome facilitation role in some difficult spokescouncil meetings, helping diverse people work together for a common cause. Considering not everyone was even fully committed to tactical nonviolence (ie. a few thought that physical self defence was OK in a NV action), he and others facilitating did great work.

Jarrod was also a key part of the Parents & Kids Action Team, that enabled a whole bunch of kids to participate in a very safe and empowering way.

Justin joined a Newcastle-based action team / affinity group based around people from Rising Tide, the local anti-coal port NV action crew, and was one of 7 from his team and about 50 people overall who illegally walked onto the railway line (the police had helpfully stopped the trains already, so it was perfectly safe!).

Continue reading “Nonviolent direct action shuts down coal port”

An Open Invitation to Christians to take Climate Action

Dear friends,

Climate change has become possibly the defining moral issue of our time. One of the biggest problems we face is that Australia is addicted to coal. Coal exports are Australia’s biggest contribution to climate change. The greenhouse pollution from our coal exports exceeds all of our domestic pollution combined – and is set to grow massively.

This July we invite you to join us in taking action to put a stop to this madness.

A major ‘camp for climate action‘ will be happening in Newcastle from 10-15 July. The camp will be six days of inspiring workshops and direct action aimed at shutting down the world’s largest coal port.

We are hoping to gather a group of concerned Christians together to form an action team (or affinity group) for the blockade action. This will probably involve most (but not all) members risking arrest for a minor offence, although details will be decided by the group.

Attached is a FAQ sheet with information on climate change and Christian faith, why coal exports represent an urgent threat, the hows and whys of nonviolent action at the camp, and the history of Christian nonviolent action. We invite you to read the FAQ and consider whether God is calling you to become involved.

You don’t have to be willing to risk arrest to be involved. You don’t have to be available all six days to be involved – some people are just coming Friday to Sunday. You don’t have to be an experienced activist to be involved. You do need to be passionate about climate change and about what God thinks about us trashing the planet.

To help people think through the issues and decide if they want to be involved, Project Green Church and Pace e Bene Australia Nonviolence Service will host a few afternoon workshops over the coming weeks. These will cover details about the camp, the direct action, Christian discipleship and some nonviolent action training. You don’t have to attend one of these workshops to join us at the camp, but it will help. Details of the workshops can be found here.

If you are interested, we would love to hear from you.

Yours in Christ,

Jonathan Moylan, Rising Tide & Newcastle UCATSA
Miriam Pepper , Project Green Church
Wenny Theresia, Australian Student Environment Network
Justin Whelan, Pace e Bene Australia Nonviolence Service

(Note: organisation names are included for information only. We do not claim to represent them.)

Orthodoxy and heretics like Calvin?

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“Today I rebel against orthodox Christianity, as I am convinced that it has distorted the message of Jesus. He was an Asiatic whose message was delivered through many media, and when it had the backing of a Roman emperor it became an imperialist faith as it remains to this day.”

Mohandas Gandhi, (May 30, 1936) from “Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” by John Dear, p. 79

I’d like to start this post not just with a quote from Gandhi, but a quote from 3 others:

Quote 1.

“Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.”

Quote 2.

“Anyone who can be proved to be a seditious person is an outlaw before God and the emperor; and whoever is the first to put him to death does right and well. For if a man is in open rebellion, everyone is both his judge and the executioner; just as when a fire starts, the first man who can put it out is the best man to do the job.”

Quote 3.

“If what I’m saying about the centrality of Calvary-looking love is right, we need a major paradigm shift on how we view orthodoxy – which in turn should effect who we see as the “heroes” of orthodoxy.”

If the words of this last quote were written and acted on in the 16th century the writer could expect a second baptism of the involuntary variety where you never come up for air again. These aren’t the words of some dreadlocked, kingdom-fuelled, commune starting, dumpster diving, fringe-dwelling, freegan, (eco)activist, permaculturalist wanta-be (but thanks for reading my posts anyway ;)) but of Charismatic-Evangelical megachurch pastor, and theologian, Dr. Gregory Boyd.

So what his problem?

Continue reading “Orthodoxy and heretics like Calvin?”

spirituality of duelism and creation

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:  

“When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His Mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of Him. Anything, which is a hinderance to the flight of the soul, is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often does actually hinder you in the path of salvation.”


How does this quote strike you? 

This morning I write this post from under the shade of eucalypts in the Lockridge community garden that us Peace Tree crew have helped birthed with other locals. One of the things that has shaped the Peace Tree is what the Spirit has stirred in us regarding the gospel being good news for all of creation (not just humans) and considering what this means in a society that is seemingly asleep behind the shopping trolley while we hurtle towards creation destruction (for those of us who have trouble connecting the dots… that means self destruction!). The Lockridge Community Garden is an exciting and humble venture in reconciliation, permaculture, food security, the reclaiming of public space, and as Harry (showing of his crazy latin skills and penchant for St. Benedict would say) “ora et labora” (prayer and work).  Because it’s a Wednesday there a number of people who are volunteering in the garden, one of which is a friend who is a Buddhist nun.  I ran the quote by her for her take:

“I really like it. He seems to be talking about detachment and perception and that  what is external can either help or hinder depending on your state of mind.”

What I found so interesting is that I think many Christians, not just liberals, but evangelicals would actually agree with my Buddhist friend.  They would use different language (maybe language simular to what Gandhi) uses here to say,

“It’s great but don’t let it (God’s good creation) get in the way of spirituality, or relationship to God, or ‘the gospel’ or ‘eternal salvation’.”

It’s always risky to paint with broad brushstrokes but the quote above reveals something Gandhi’s worldview where he viewed the goal of faith being a spiritual salvation (moksha) form the ‘illusion of this world’ while living lives of loving service. This ‘dualism with an activist twist’ is sadly what many Christians think the gospel is about as well.  Somehow today  Christians often think that right relationship with each other and with the land is a secondary thought to right relationship to God. For the early Christians it was an integral part of the reconciliation of all things which God has started in Jesus.

Somehow today Christians have walked away from our calling to be image bearers and witnesses to the transformation of creation (the coming of the kingdom).   Instead we have become religious vendors of ‘spirituality’ to accompany the foolish and diabolical destruction of creation.  Instead of preaching ‘in Jesus the exodus from all domination has started’ we preach a neo-Gnostism of  ’in Jesus the exodus from creation has started’. As my friend Ian Barns recently wrote:

“many Christians believe that God is primarily interested in humans and their eternal salvation, and not in other creatures and ecosystems. Although the doctrine of creation (God made the world and saw that it was good) saves us from being Manichean (matter is bad, spirit is good) nonetheless, Christian worship, practice, and theology and involvement in worldly life is shaped by a practical dualism which makes us generally unconcerned about ecological issues. Moreover, the focus on issues of personal spirituality means that we fit comfortably within the utilitarian approach to the natural world that is part of modern urban and industrial life.”

“For this movement of American evangelicals, issues of abortion, same sex marriage, and stem cell research have been much more important issues than the long term health of the planet. To be sure, in February 2005, 83 prominent US evangelicals published the so-called ‘Evangelical Climate Initiative’, with a ‘Call to Action’ to governments and churches. Yet evangelical leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Charles Colson and Don Carson actively opposed this initiative.”

And drawing on NT Wright issues this prophetic call:

“if we pay attention to the ‘bigger picture’ gospel that the Bible proclaims, we can see that far from being merely a temporary vehicle for us humans as we make our way to heaven, the creation is integral to God’s salvation purpose. God does not make a good creation, which he then destroys because of the disfiguring effects of human sin. Rather, his eternal purpose is that, as human creatures faithfully reflect God’s image, the created order should enter into the liberty of the children of God (Romans 8). The gospel message is that Jesus, the first born of a renewed humanity, has done what Adam, and humanity ‘ after the sinful flesh’, could not do: be the perfect image of God.  Through his obedience unto death, Jesus opens the way for not just humanity, but God’s good creation, to enter into that glorious destiny God always intended.”

Living during this ecological crisis, if we are to have any integrity to the Scriptures, the early Church, and our Lord, we must preach a full gospel that is good news to all of creation.  Otherwise “evangelical” will no longer be associated with ‘good news’.

first posted at