Protesters pray for God to step in

WITH government approvals under its belt, it seems nothing short of divine intervention can stop Whitehaven Coal building its $767 million coalmine at Maules Creek.

PRAYER POWER: Religious leaders, front from left, Pastor John Carroll, Reverend John Brentnall, lay minister Byron Smith and supporter Gill Burrows stage a peaceful protest in the Leard State Forest.

PRAYER POWER: Religious leaders, front from left, Pastor John Carroll, Reverend John Brentnall, lay minister Byron Smith and supporter Gill Burrows stage a peaceful protest in the Leard State Forest.

But that was precisely what three religious leaders were praying for when they staged an early morning protest in the Leard State Forest yesterday morning.

Liverpool Plains Uniting Church minister Reverend John Brentnall, St George’s Anglican Church lay minister Byron Smith and Penrith’s Pastor John Carroll were among four people arrested after blocking access to the forest.

The three men were joined in the peaceful protest by about 25 people of various denominations as they locked themselves to a cross.

Mr Smith, 35, of Paddington in Sydney, said there were numerous examples found in scripture and throughout history of Christians “when faced with deeply unjust laws recognising that obedience to God comes first”.

“When you dig up coal and then burn it, it enters the atmosphere and oceans that we all share and that makes all of us a local to this coalmine,” he said.

“As a Christian ... tearing down a forest to dig up a coalmine that’s going to wreck the climate is a grave dishonour to the Creator.”

Many of yesterday’s participants are attached to the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, which also staged an anti-mining protest at Maules Creek in March.

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