On Monday in Lancaster County, Pa., there was a dramatic showdown in a cornfield owned by Catholic sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.

Almost 100 people participated in a demonstration to protest the installation of a natural gas pipeline on the sisters’ land. Construction was scheduled to begin Monday.

Twenty-three people stood holding hands and singing hymns until they were arrested and charged with defiant trespassing. The nuns, most of whom are in their 80s and 90s, did not protest but did hold a prayer vigil in support.

  • 11 of the protesters who were arrested are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, according to the local Fox News station.
  • NBC News reported that one protester, who suffered an apparent panic attack after his hands were zip-tied behind his back for more than an hour, was taken to a hospital.

Most of the people arrested were local residents. One traveled from Massachusetts and another from West Virginia to join the protest.

The sisters argue that allowing a fossil fuel pipeline on their land goes against the land ethic that members of their order sign, vowing to protect the earth. They lost a case in federal court fighting to keep Williams Cos., an energy company, from laying the pipeline beneath their cornfield. They are still awaiting a decision on a separate lawsuit that they filed, alleging that the pipeline violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Mark Clutterbuck, who leads the group Lancaster Against Pipelines, said he thinks the judge who decided the first case against the nuns should have granted the sisters an injunction so that Williams Cos. would not be allowed to start construction on their land until the religious freedom case is heard in court.

“It’s so infuriating that the courts are so complicit, and just so openly complicit, with the industry against the religious freedom of the sisters,” Clutterbuck said. “To me, it is just so shameful.”

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