taking the words of Jesus seriously

Back in 2017, I was invited to join Brian Zahnd, Greg Boyd, and Bruxy Cavey to voice our lament about the atrocities committed by white Christians against Indigenous Peoples here in North America. (Thanks to Rex Harsin for producing this video.) Now, four years later, I want to follow up the heartfelt message of that video by expressing my public opposition to the Line 3 pipeline — and by asking you to add your voice as well. 

I am motivated to speak up by two loves: love for this precious earth and love for the Indigenous peoples in whose ancestral lands I have lived my whole life.

I was born on Turtle Island—the descendant of immigrants, settlers, and colonizers; but so much of this land’s history was hidden from me as a child. For example, I was unaware of the Doctrine of Discovery and its brutal aftermath until I was around fifty years old. 

Now my life has been enriched through the writings and friendship of Native Americans, and I joyfully honor the Indigenous Peoples who stand as stewards of this precious earth, its waters, and its living creatures, all of which are beloved creations of God. I lament the tragic history of wrongs against my Indigenous siblings, and I join them in their wise opposition to Line 3. 

The Line 3 pipeline is the work of North America’s largest pipeline company (Enbridge), which is responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history (1.7 million gallons). Each day for the next forty years and more, Enbridge plans to ship a million gallons of pollution-heavy, climate-destabilizing crude and Canadian tar sands oil into the US. This project will make big profits for Enbridge, but it will mean heavy costs for all of us, as it further intensifies global warming and unleashes a wide array of harms to human health and to our precious, fragile planet at this critical moment in history.

Not only that but Line 3 once again violates treaties made with Indigenous Peoples. In the US, it crosses the lands and precious waters of the Anishinaabe people without their consent. The United Nations’ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) has spoken against the pipeline as a violation of the human rights of the Anishinaabe people and urged the US government to stop it.

As a Christian thinker, writer, teacher, and former pastor, I invite my fellow Christians and other people of faith and goodwill to put the long-term well-being of our neighbors—and our planet—above the short-term profits of powerful corporations like Enbridge.

READ: Women of Faith Can Help Advance Climate Justice

I call upon political leaders—especially President Biden, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Governor Tim Walz—to put a stop to this pipeline as an expression of their commitment to human rights, human dignity, treaty integrity, and ecological responsibility. I stand with Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, an Ojibwe woman who has spoken out against Line 3. I affirm that this is not simply a political matter, but a moral one, rooted in our mandate to care for the earth (Genesis 2:15) and to love our neighbors, especially those who have been victims of injustice (Isaiah 1:17). 

If you would like to add your voice, here are five simple steps you can take right now.

  1. Forward this message to others via social media. You might also take a picture of yourself holding a #StopLine3 sign. Tag @potus, @govtimwalz, @senamyklobchar, @sentinasmith. Add #StopLine3 in your message.
  2. Stay informed here and on Twitter: @ResistLine3. 
  3. Vote for candidates who take First Nations and Native American concerns seriously, and join indigenous peoples in caring for the earth and protecting its waters.
  4. If you live in Minnesota, contact your representatives and ask them to stop Line 3.
  5. If you are a Christian, read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7), reflect on God’s concern for “the birds of the air” and “the wildflowers of the field,” and open your heart for guidance on how you can respond to the Climate Emergency and Indigenous struggles to defend our common home.

About The Author


Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for "a new kind of Christianity" - just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow, a contributor to We Stand With Love, and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he is developing an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors and church planters.

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