The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, U.S. Region, who are embroiled in a federal lawsuit over the exercise of their right to religious freedom, will hold a Palm Sunday prayer service at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25 at their cornfield chapel in Columbia, Pennsylvania.
The Adorers, who live by a multi-principled Land Ethic, which they adopted in 2005, invite others to join them as they publicly witness to the sacredness of the land.
The Palm Sunday commemoration will be held at the cornfield chapel that was erected last summer and represents a symbolic and sacred space in the Adorers’ struggle to protect their religious freedoms.
Palm Sunday, March 25, also happens to be the anniversary of the day in 1925 when the Adorers in Alton, Illinois, set out for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to establish what would become the Columbia Province.
Three former provinces of the Adorers in Columbia, Pennsylvania; Wichita, Kansas; and Ruma, Illinois; consolidated in 2000 to form the Adorers as a U.S. Region. This Palm Sunday commemoration will be led by the Sisters and will be a time of worship, reflection and commemoration.
The Adorers have a deep religious belief in the sacredness of the earth, which they believe is part of God’s creation and needs to be protected for future generations.
They also have a long history of being environmental stewards of the property they own as part of their religious beliefs and practices, including their farm land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
As part of its Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, a new “greenfield” pipeline, the Williams Company sought to install its fossil fuel pipeline on the Adorers’ farm land in Lancaster County. In light of the serious threat to the earth caused by global warming, the Adorers consistently and staunchly opposed on religious grounds Williams’ requests and stated Williams could not use their land for its new fossil fuel pipeline.
Over the religious objections of the Adorers, Williams, a for-profit private company, went into federal court and condemned an easement over the Adorers’ property so that Williams could install the pipeline against the religious objections of the Adorers. Williams then proceeded to enter the Adorers’ property and installed a 42-inch pipeline. Williams threatened to seek fines and imprisonment if the Adorers took steps to exercise their religious beliefs as they relate to how they use their own land if they interfered with Williams’ installation of its pipeline.
In response, the Adorers filed suit in federal court. The Adorers base their claim on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the same law that the Little Sisters of the Poor used in their case objecting to the mandate in the Affordable Care Act to provide employees with coverage for certain forms of contraception that were objectionable on religious grounds.
The Adorers have argued in court that the actions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Williams Company, in forcing the Adorers’ to use their own land to facilitate conduct that is contrary to their strongly held religious beliefs, violate their rights under the Act and should be stopped.
Last August, a federal district judge dismissed the Adorers’ claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and allowed Williams to proceed with installation of its pipeline on the Adorers’ land. The Adorers took an immediate appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In January, attorneys for the Adorers and for FERC and Williams argued the case before a three-judge panel. The judges have not yet issued an opinion in this case.