When Rev. John Floberg wrote a letter about Standing Rock to interfaith clergy members all across the country, he hoped to rally 100 people.
“Our duty as people of faith and clergy could not be clearer: to stand on the side of the oppressed and to pray for God’s mercy in these challenging times,” the Episcopalian minister wrote.
In the letter, he urged religious leaders to join him for a day of solidarity on Nov. 3, 2016, with the 200-plus Native American tribes protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Episcopalians, Baptists, Catholics, and other Christian denominations joined with Unitarians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and more in a morning prayer circle at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
T’ruah, the Rabbinic call for human rights, released a statement saying, “Throughout Jewish history our cemeteries have been desecrated and destroyed. Jews cannot stand idly by while the Sioux community’s burial grounds are threatened by the planned route of the pipeline.”
The leaders marched alongside Native American water protectors down North Dakota Highway 1806 to bear witness to the violence against the protectors.
Meanwhile, other religious leaders headed to Bismarck, where they held a protest that locked down the state’s capitol building.
Religious leaders also burned a copy of the Doctrine of Discovery, a ceremonial act meant to demonstrate their support of Native American rights.
The papal document, which dates back to the 15th century, has long been used to justify the continued imperialist attitudes that have been used to steal land from and do harm to indigenous people across the world in the name of God.
“By burning copies of the Doctrine of Discovery we were signaling an end to a past that has affected millions and millions of people,” explained Bishop Marc Andrus of California. “People who have been colonized and people who have been enslaved, but also the enslavers and the colonizers, it’s affected us all.”
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