500 religious leaders joined Native Americans in protest and prayer at Standing Rock.

When Rev. John Floberg wrote a letter about Standing Rock to interfaith clergy members all across the country, he hoped to rally 100 people.

"Our duty as people of faith and clergy could not be clearer: to stand on the side of the oppressed and to pray for God’s mercy in these challenging times," the Episcopalian minister wrote.

In the letter, he urged religious leaders to join him for a day of solidarity on Nov. 3, 2016, with the 200-plus Native American tribes protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline.


And when the day came, he was overwhelmed: More than 500 leaders from 20 different faiths showed up.

‌Floberg stands at the left. All photos by Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service, used with permission.

Episcopalians, Baptists, Catholics, and other Christian denominations joined with Unitarians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and more in a morning prayer circle at the Oceti Sakowin camp.

T’ruah, the Rabbinic call for human rights, released a statement saying, "Throughout Jewish history our cemeteries have been desecrated and destroyed. Jews cannot stand idly by while the Sioux community’s burial grounds are threatened by the planned route of the pipeline."

The leaders marched alongside Native American water protectors down North Dakota Highway 1806 to bear witness to the violence against the protectors.

Meanwhile, other religious leaders headed to Bismarck, where they held a protest that locked down the state's capitol building.

Religious leaders also burned a copy of the Doctrine of Discovery, a ceremonial act meant to demonstrate their support of Native American rights.

The papal document, which dates back to the 15th century, has long been used to justify the continued imperialist attitudes that have been used to steal land from and do harm to indigenous people across the world in the name of God.

"By burning copies of the Doctrine of Discovery we were signaling an end to a past that has affected millions and millions of people," explained Bishop Marc Andrus of California. "People who have been colonized and people who have been enslaved, but also the enslavers and the colonizers, it’s affected us all."

And of course, many of them came with charity in the form of food and supplies to ease the ongoing struggles of the water protectors.

Native American protesters, many of whom already live in extreme poverty, have been camping out for months along the path of the pipeline. The Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone camps alike are in desperate need of cash and supplies — food, batteries, clothing, warmth, and so on — in order to keep fighting, particularly as the temperature starts to drop.‌

"This is what the love of God enacted looks like," said Rev. Stephanie Sellers.

Sellers is canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism and reconciliation of the Episcopal Church. "As I’m looking around the circle of 524 faith leaders from all over this country, I feel like I’m watching reconciliation," she said in an interview with the Episcopal News Service.

She also led the gathered leaders in song.

"This is not a liberal or conservative thing. This is not a Republican-Democratic thing. This is a human thing and it’s a Jesus thing to do what is right for all God’s children," said Bishop Michael Curry.

Curry is also a representative of the Episcopalian Church. But his sentiment was echoed by many other religious leaders. The president of the Unitarian Universalist Association even released a statement calling the pipeline "a textbook case of marginalizing minority communities."

"Let us not forget ... our native brothers and sisters who are facing the full force of corporate greed and government callousness at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation," said Imam Zaid Shakir.

He also noted, "We need to change ourselves, end our own greed, transform our own souls, and admit our need for Divine aid in overcoming these daunting challenges."

These inspiring acts of faith remind us that we are strongest when we stand together and embrace our differences.

After all Native Americans have been through, they deserve some kind of divine intervention, in whatever form that might take.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

Keep Reading Show less