A BUDDHIST monk, Catholic priest, Anglican minister and other religious leaders have prayed for divine intervention to stop construction of the Maules Creek coalmine.
The multi-faith group descended on the Leard State Forest yesterday to show their support for protesters fighting against Whitehaven Coal’s controversial project.
Three members of the delegation – including Anglican minister Byron Smith – were arrested and taken to Narrabri Police Station but were not charged.
The arrests came after some of the leaders locked entrance gates to the construction site and prevented trucks from gaining entry.
The blockade was organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), which supports non-violent resistance movements.
Gunnedah’s Reverend John Brentnall, who participated in the prayer vigil, said: “The people blockading should be seen as protectors rather than protesters.
“Those destroying the forest for an open-cut coalmine are interested only in short-term profits.
“While profit has its place, all the great religious traditions place it well below other values we hold dear.”
ARRCC president Thea Ormerod, who was also arrested, said the leaders felt they had a “moral requirement” to fight the mine.
“Whitehaven’s plans to build the largest new coalmine in the country are fiercely opposed by residents in the Maules Creek area,” she said in a column for Fairfax Media.
“They cite the potentially devastating impacts on their health, water, air quality, agriculture and biodiversity.
“It is no great leap of the imagination to see why religious people are taking a stand.”
Ms Ormerod, Reverend Smith and ARRCC member Gill Burrows were each fined $67.