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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less