Practicing what they consider creation stewardship, a small group of Baptists from East Texas journeyed to Washington, D.C., to protest construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.
Four members of Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches participated in the Forward on Climate rally, which brought about 40,000 protesters to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
After the rally, the East Texas Baptists joined a march to the White House to urge President Barack Obama to take action against climate change and oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Although the extension of the Keystone XL Pipeline through Nebraska stalled after Obama rejected the company’s application, due to concern about the environmental impact on the Sandhills region and Ogallala Aquifer, construction continues on the segment from Cushing, Okla., to Southeast Texas—including western Nacogdoches County.
In recent months, Austin Heights Baptist Church offered hospitality to members of the Tar Sands Blockade—environmental activists who camped near Nacogdoches in the pipeline’s path to block clear-cutting and construction crews.
In a guest editorial in the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel, Kyle Childress, pastor of Austin Heights Baptist Church, wrote: “I fear we are treading on holy ground. Instead of taking our shoes off in reverence and respect (Genesis 3), we are extracting dirty and toxic fuels, spewing them onto God’s creation that we are given to care for (Genesis 2:15) and changing the entire global ecosystem.”
Tar sands oil produces more pollution than conventional oil when it is produced, transported and refined because it contains more carbon and more toxic substances, Childress asserted.
“The old story from Genesis says that in our pride, we sinned against God,” he wrote. “But now, as if that is not enough, with the tar sands pipeline, and our degradation of the planet, it seems that we want to unmake it all, which is like spitting in God’s face. And I, for one, don’t want to go there.”