On Monday, faith leaders met to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and they were joined by several elected leaders.
Among them was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman firebrand whose progressive politics have rankled some establishment members of both parties but have made her a beloved figure on the far left. AOC, as she’s commonly known, is a Catholic and spoke of her time protesting at Standing Rock as a moment of spiritual awakening. Part of the speech was captured by Reverend Kaji Douša, senior pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church.
“It was truly one of the most spiritually transformative experiences of my life,” Ocasio-Cortez says in the clip. “I remember leaving that camp and thinking ‘Lord, just do with me what you will. Allow me to be a vessel.”
“And I was driving off the camp I got an email asking if I would consider a run for Congress,” she continues. “I felt the spirit of that preparation. I felt like this was my charge. And I didn’t know if I would win. I didn’t know if I would lose. I knew I was being told to run.”
You can watch the whole clip below, via Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, author of the forthcoming Just Faith.
The protest at Standing Rock in 2016 and 2017 was over the construction of the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline in the northern U.S. — a construction that locals feared would pollute nearby drinking water and threaten ancient burial grounds many in the Standing Rock tribe consider sacred.
AOC has talked about her faith in the past, including an article for American Magazine about how it motivates her quest for prison justice reform.
While Democrats are often lambasted by critics for being “godless”, research shows that most voters of both parties are Christian, though the percentage of Christians in the GOP is higher.