Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on news from Standing Rock

Posted Dec 5, 2016

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry has issued the following statement on the news concerning the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation:

This morning, the sun ascended over the Great Plains of our nation, and hope truly dawned anew.

After months of courageously and peacefully working to prevent the laying of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which posed potential danger to the water supply of the people of the Sioux Nation and transgressed their sacred burial grounds, the water protectors on Standing Rock have won a notable victory. Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their decision to deny an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction across the sacred land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and this long-awaited announcement is cause for joyful celebration and thanks.

On behalf of the Episcopal Church, I offer my gratitude to President Barack Obama and his Administration for championing the rights of the indigenous peoples of the United States. We applaud the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline permit under Lake Oahe. I personally offer thanks to all those who have worked to amplify the voices of the people at Standing Rock, calling our attention to historic wrongs and injustices, and urging us all to consider a new vision for how we might love God, love each other and love creation.

I am grateful and humbled by the water protectors of Standing Rock, whose faithful witness, serves as an example of moral courage, spiritual integrity, and genuine concern for the entire human family and God’s creation. I am equally appreciative of the sacrifice and example of the military veterans, interfaith clergy and trauma chaplains who accompanied the Water Protectors during critical moments of the struggle.

Our whole church should offer special thanksgiving to Father John Floberg of the Diocese of North Dakota for effectively organizing Episcopalians and other people of faith in this effort, and to clergy and lay people who committed themselves to standing with the water protectors – both physically and in spirit.

Even as our Church celebrates this historic announcement, we must also look to the mighty tasks that lay ahead. In the next eighteen months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an Environmental Impact Statement to explore alternative routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We ask that the assessment involve extensive consultation with affected populations, and that any plan going forward honor treaty obligations with the Standing Rock Sioux. We will also continue to urge the current and incoming presidential administration to launch a thorough Department of Justice investigation into the use of brutal force by law enforcement on Standing Rock. Our work is not over, and the Episcopal Church has a critical role to play in ensuring a just and humane outcome is fully realized.

We recognize that this struggle for the protection of water and of the basic human rights of indigenous people is one moment in a wider movement for social and environmental justice. May we in this way bear true witness to the words of the holy prophet Micah, who said:

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Comments (57)

  1. Lewis E Myrick says:

    Curry has no business in politics, and this is completely political.

    1. Irene COwley says:

      Guaranteeing safe water, and respecting our neighbors and our original hosts on this continent is political?

      1. M. J. Wise says:

        That’s a scientific question (as to what would “guarantee safe water”). Why would PB Curry even be expected to know that answer? He is a clergyman, not a scientist. Does he independently evaluate the environmental performance of each aircraft he climbs on before he decides to ride it? I rather doubt that. So what expertise does he bring to bear here? He is ultimately just weighing in politically. It’s a shame really, I had hoped we would return to the Jesus movement with him in the lead, instead it appears that we just got another term of leftist politics du jour.

        1. Joyce Butler says:

          What would Jesus do?

          1. Ronald Davin says:

            Probably make coffee for the police who were brought out there. He never lead a disobedience campaign against Rome.

      2. M. Shelton says:

        Recognizing the holiness in all peoples; may we never ask anything less of our faith leaders.
        So grateful for this bishop!

        1. Kathleen says:

          Me too! I’m proud!

    2. T. Townsend says:

      We should be proud of him! What bold leadership.

    3. Michael Gillulm says:

      Obviously not political. Standing for God’s Creation and the People.

      1. Joni Yon says:

        Fresh, untainted water isn’t a privilege, it’s a basic need for life, to survive. At what point do we STOP abusing the indigeneous peoples of this country, to do MORE to protect them? If the energy company had wanted to build a pipeline thru the middle of a white cemetary, there would be HELL to pay. I wish I could have been there!

    4. Beth Ramsay says:

      Please refer to him with politeness using a proper title. You may not agree with him, but this gentle man is the leader of a church denomination and deserves to referred to by Bishop Curry.

      As for his statement, it’s all about respect for all and the good stewardship of all that has been given to us.

    5. Suzanne Kerr Laborda says:

      Seriously? Bp Curry has every right/moral obligation to respond to any injustice he witnesses. I am so proud that he is the Bishop of my church!

      1. Lilly Duncan says:

        Amen! Really proud that he is my Bishop!

    6. John Bennett says:

      Would you say the same of Niemöller? Did not Christ challenge authority when corrupt?

    7. Katharine Flowers says:

      You mean like Jesus?

      1. Katharine Flowers says:

        And thank God for Michael Curry and the Episcopal Church. We stand above ignorance.

        1. Wanda Valentine says:


    8. Mary Hennessy says:

      Defense of basic human rights is not political. It is a moral obligation.

    9. Jean Paveglio says:

      Water is sacred, and whether you are atheist, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Indian you should speak out about clean water for every living person. Please , everyone, join in the fight for clean water for all, including Flint, Mich., Africa, Mexico, etc.

    10. Elizabeth Baker says:

      I’d hazard a guess that this is only because you disagree with him

    11. Ronald Sommer says:

      I am an aetheist and I applaud the Bishop. This is not a political issue nor is it a religious issue, it is an issue of the survival of the human race and of the planet. He has a right, so long as he isn´t pushing his religion on me, to use whatever platform he may have for the benefit of the human race.

    12. Will Smith says:

      One might read the Baptismal Covenant in the Book of Common Prayer, pp 304 ff…which does answer the question…we are to care also for the earth!

    13. Jane Maslanka says:

      Sir, by your logic, Dr. Martin Luther King, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer had no business getting involved in politics. That position is, frankly, ludicrous.

    14. Jean Dowell says:

      Speaking out to save all of creation is a solemn responsibility of religious leaders.

  2. Alan Justice says:

    As a citizen, PB Curry has every right to speak his mind. As the leader of the Episcopal Church, he has the duty to advocate for justice, economic and otherwise. As our founder said, “As you do unto the least of these….”

    1. Michael Gillulm says:


    2. Ronald Bice says:


  3. Angelique Bolling says:

    How is acting as a good steward of the Earth political? That is entirely within the realm of the Episcopal mission.

  4. M. J. Wise says:

    Someone should let the PB know that there is a major administration change not even 2 months away. Do you really think ACE is going to sit on this for 18 months? I refuse to believe he is so naive.

    This is at its core a political dispute, and I am troubled by the PB’s willingness to paint one side as possessing unvarnished virtue and the other side as encapsulating total villainy. For a church that pride itself as holding scripture, tradition, and reason with equal regard, this PB appears to only have two colors of crayons to work with.

    1. Michael Gilkum says:

      Truth and Justice?

      1. M. J. Wise says:

        No, good and evil. One side he has declared good, and the other side he has declared to be evil.

    2. Rob Neville says:

      This is at it’s core not a political issue outside of the fact that all human endeavors are political. This is a human justice issue. This is Moses telling Pharaoh let my people go. This is those in power speaking for those without power. This is about a nation which continues to commit crimes against the indigenous people of this land and saying no more. This is the job of all Christians to stand up for the oppressed and as the leader of the Episcopal Church in this country this is very much his role. Speaking out against greed is what the one whom we follow did and this is an issue of greed.

  5. Thank you Bishop, and we stand with you as this process unfolds. Our church has stood with the Sioux Nation since the 1800, and we will continue with God’s help where ever injustice strikes- this is the role of the church.

  6. Mike Clark says:

    I don’t think Bishop Curry is naive at all. He pointed out that there are, as he put it, mighty tasks that lie ahead. The fight isn’t over here, nor is it over on multiple fronts.

    I stand with him in celebration, and with a vigilant eye to the future.

  7. Ronald Davin says:

    To the people of Illinois in need of the light crude oil – tough luck indicates the P.B.
    To the people of the United States in need of becoming energy independent – tough luck indicates the P.B.
    To the police seeing that vandalism be kept to a minimum, the P.B. does not see the damaged expensive
    vehicles. Tough luck
    To the people of the area communities who had to pay in their taxes for the law enforcement deployment Tough luck
    To the World War 2 veterans whose Monument in Washington DC was defaced by supporters of this movement. Tough Luck you think anyone cares ?
    Our Episcopal Church Anything but fair or balanced.

    Finally for the deputy sheriff who was fired on 3 times with a 38 pistol, Tough luck

    1. Rob Neville says:

      To the people of Illinois: If you think this pipeline was for your benefit you are sorely mistaken. This is so the companies that want to refine the oil can bring it to market and the refineries cheaper so they can make more profit. Your gas bills won’t drop one dime. Oil prices are global not local. This is a power play by those who already have more than they could ever need or want taking more and getting the poor to fight the poor to protect their profits. If we want energy independence we need to ween ourselves off of this product not produce more – Alternative energy – electric vehicles have all been fought against by the energy industry because oil is profit intensive. They get tax write offs too in the way of oil depletion allowances. The people of Bismark got to say no to the pipeline why not the Sioux? I don’t know could it be racism?

      1. Les Smith says:

        Where do you think the electricity comes from that powers electric vehicles? The electricity has to be generated from some source, most likely coal or natural gas or hydroelectric power. BTW, please don’t use your a/c in the summer as it creates a large carbon footprint, and also take mass transit rather than using a car.

  8. Rebecca C. Cawley says:

    i believe we are called to be good stewards of the earth. Thank you Bishop Curry for showing us the way.

  9. Cn. Shirley M. Watts says:

    Thank you and Bless you PB Curry for speaking out to protect God’s water, His earth, and His people! Your advocacy and support is appreciated. I too stand and celebrate for Standing Rock.

  10. Margaret Lesh says:

    Thank you, Bishop Curry. You make me proud to call myself an Episcopalian!

  11. Nancy Studebaker says:

    Proud to be Episcopalian. Thank you, Bishop Curry. Thank you.

  12. Priscilla Johnstone says:

    Proud of our church and our PB that stood with Native Americans who have been and in this case clearly were disenfranchised by the powers of influence and money. Easy to overlook and ignore the people of Flint and the Standing Rock people: Not in my backyard, not my problem. Glad that we are following the Jesus movement by speaking out, supporting, praying, feeding the dispossessed and that we are also inviting a more peaceful and enlightened response by those in power.

  13. Kim Shelver says:

    I strongly believe the PB should speak out against injustice however there isn’t any in this situation. There is only the post-truth promulgated by social media, news media, and people who are jumping on the most recent bandwagon. As a North Dakotan, I know the facts that aren’t being considered or are being ignored. Ignoring or distorting facts is widespread in this country. Please take the time to ask critical thinking questions such as why are tires being burned polluting the air for the sake of clean water, who really benefits from this protest, what efforts were made to ensure the pipeline is safe, why didn’t the tribal leaders take advantage of the numerous opportunities to avoid this situation, and on and on. There is too much real injustice in the world that needs to be focused on and that is where we can truly make a positive difference.

  14. Thea Brown says:

    Some of the negative comments here are both astounding and disappointing. I think this is the time when we all must stand up and be counted. I am glad that he is leading by example in this way.

  15. Marybeth Wright says:

    Thank you so very much PB Curry. This is truly a gift from God!

  16. normandie Shirley says:

    This is the main reason I am disappointed with the Episcopalian church. PB Curry is expressing his views and not those of us who do not agree.

  17. Lori Ramsey says:

    Excellent demonstration by PB Curry of one of the Five Marks of Mission, which are derived from our baptismal covenant…To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

  18. max stewart says:

    thank you – and ignore the trolls. protecting water supplies and sacred ground are human issues that were politicized for the sake of profit. who amongst those angry at your stance would accept poisoned water or a pipeline through their ancestors’ burial places?

  19. Douglas Carpenter says:

    To understand why some respond with anger read J. D. Vance’s HILLBILLY ELEGY. That book is a great help in understanding a sizable portion of our population and knowing how to respond to them.

  20. Barbara Harber says:

    Whether I agree or disagree with the position taken, the church must reclaim its rightful place as city, community, national voice on issues vital to the people. Maybe not from the Sunday pulpit, but on the Monday street corner. Who has a better right?

  21. Sandy Cooke says:

    Thank you, Bishop Curry, for all that you do. I have admired you from the first day you arrived at St. Michael’s in Raleigh, NC, years ago.

  22. Linda Light says:

    Bishop Curry,
    You ask that there be extensive consultation and decisions made in the future for the pipeline be in keeping with the current Treaties. It’s pretty difficult to consult with someone who won’t show up to the talks.
    Did you read any of the minutes from the court proceedings related to any of the 369 opportunities to which the Sioux Nation were specifically invited to come and Be heard and for which they didn’t show up??? There were representatives from the court and the Corp of Engineers who even went to a meeting scheduled around tribal leadership meetings so as to be convenient for the tribal leaders to attend right at their own meeting location and the tribal leaders adjourned and would not even meet with the representatives. It’s pretty tough to consider someone’s input when they refuse over and over again to give input.
    The Sioux blew off the whole issue when they might have stopped this using appropriate channels. Hmmmmm… Appropriate channels would not bring the media attention that the protests did. The Sioux simply threw a giant tantrum when it was too late to go thru appropriate channels. It sure looks like they wanted a reason to cause a ruckus. Do you realize that the pipeline is NOT on their land and that their water source is being moved upstream from the pipeline? Do you understand that there are already pipelines under the Missouri River near this area?
    I understand that you need to support the North Dakota Epicopalians who chose to side with protestors. There are Episcopalians in the Corp of Engineers, too. The Corps didn’t fail in the impact research. The Sioux Tribe failed in their responsibility to provide feed back. Your statements imply that the Corps of Engineers did not do an honest job in their impact study and that they allowed treaty violations and destruction of burial grounds. That is untrue. It would be nice if you could also demonstrate by what you say that you have actually looked at both sides of an issue rather than saying statements that make you sound like you did not educate yourself about both sides of this issue. It would also be nice if you refrained from praising people who endangered others because they would rather make a ruckus than even attempt to use the channels in place. Had they used the channels in place, perhaps all the time and effort they spent protesting could have been put to a constructive use. It’s 2016 and these were adults who needed to show up and express their concerns like adults when opportunity was available before resorting to aggressive behavior and trespassing.

  23. Carla Burzyk says:

    I’m with the PB. He lifts me up. Grateful to have his lead to follow.

  24. Vicki Gray says:

    With love and respect, thank you, Michael.

  25. Hugh Hansen, Ph.D. says:

    I have applauded presiding Bishop Curry’s leadership in the past. It seems that he is followed the model of ABC Welty in evangelism, prayer, and reconciliation. Now it seems that he has left the preaching of the gospel, caring for the diocese, and looking after the church to support a shallow political, Partisan effort to disrupt the flow of progress in this country. Paul said,

    Romans 8:20-22
    For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

    that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

    For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

    That it will take the work of God to restore creation. There are millions of places in this world that need redemption and restoration. Surely, our esteemed presiding Bishop can find children to be educated, fed, nourished with the gospel of Christ where he could take his magnetic personality to ensure that they will be Christians, followers of Christ, for a lifetime.

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