The Dakota Access Pipeline is being laid across Native American land in North Dakota. Native Americans have turned out by the thousands since May to oppose its construction on what they say is sacred land. For this reason and others, Christians should consider joining the protest in opposition to a project that violates Christ’s Golden Rule.
The Dakota Pipeline is a 1,134 mile underground pipeline that will transport oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The project costs $3.7 billion, is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, and will create about 40 permanent jobs.
Experts say the pipeline is needed because the crude extracted from the Bakken fields is more flammable than other crudes and it is more dangerous to transport it on an already burdened rail network. The pipeline is being touted as a safety upgrade.
However, many others are opposed to the pipeline. Environmentalists say the pipeline can damage water supplies. They add the project facilitates the national double down on fossil fuels at a time when we should be transitioning to renewable energy.
Farmers and landowners are also concerned the pipeline could pose an environmental hazard and will diminish property values. They are upset at the federal seizure of land from private owners.
Native Americans argue the pipeline cuts though ancient burial grounds, and they are opposed to the Federal Government giving away their land for private use. The pipeline is another sign of disrespect after centuries of predation by white settlers and the American federal government.
How should Christians view this project? Should we support energy independence and a step towards improving public safety? Aren’t jobs and financial gains laudable pursuits?
They are, but they should not come at the expense of respect and compassion. Remember, man was not created to serve the market, but rather the market to serve man.
How would we feel if a pipeline were built though a Christian cemetery where their loved ones are laid to rest? What if a portion of your home were appropriated by the federal government and given over to the use of a private corporation to create jobs?
And what if these things were done without your consent or compensation?
Legal objections to the project have failed. However, legal does not mean moral.
The Golden Rule says we should treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves. Nobody would appreciate the seizure of their land, particularly following a history of such seizures. And nobody would appreciate a pipe running through an ancestral burial plot. So what makes us believe it’s okay to do this now?
Fortunately, thousands of people, both Native Americans and non-Natives see this wrong. They are turning out to protest construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The project either needs to be scrapped, or at a minimum, rerouted if possible. And above all, an agreement must be reached with the Native American people if the pipeline touches their lands. This is the minimum degree of respect to which all people are entitled.
If our government is unwilling to extend this respect to our Native brothers and sisters, then it is incumbent upon all Americans to vote in a new government of leaders who will treat fairly with all parties. 25;;08 *1 9**;36)5(*
Our nation cannot be considered great if it requires the defilement of sacred spaces and cannot abide by a simple rule of mutual respect.