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Religion and Occupy Wall Street

Religion and Occupy Wall Street

Back in the States, the mainline religious community and even elements of American evangelicalism has rallied around the Occupy movement, even as the movement sees itself as mainly a secular phenomenon.

Mark Tooley notes the involvement of various denominations and religious groups and on the whole is unhappy about it.

Praising the Occupation is a gamble for liberal evangelicals, who have tried so hard to appear centrist in recent years, anxious to softly persuade suburban churchgoers to abandon their conservative voting habits. Oldline Protestant elites, along with left-wing Catholic activists, of course welcome the Occupation as a long overdue 1960s revival.

The Executive Council of the once prestigious Episcopal Church publicly declared recently “that the growing movement of peaceful protests in public spaces in the United States and throughout the world in resistance to the exploitation of people for profit or power bears faithful witness in the tradition of Jesus to the sinful inequities in society.”

There was a time, not too long ago, when Wall Street and the Episcopal Church were viewed, not unfairly, as almost interchangeable. J. Pierpoint Morgan once famously carried his denomination’s bishops on his private train to the Episcopal Church General Convention. It’s doubtful that Episcopal Diocese of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, who personally paid homage to the Wall Street Occupation, will be getting any train rides from prominent financiers. After his pilgrimage, the bishop met at nearby historic Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, with interfaith leaders to discuss how religions can back the Occupation’s goals, whatever they are.

Michael Landesburg at the LA Times says that for the hallmarks of religious revival, the Occupy movement is largely a secular affair.

On a bright and raucous afternoon outside Los Angeles City Hall, Cornel West was revving up a crowd at Occupy L.A. As he often does, the prominent philosopher and activist peppered his speech with religious phrases, at one point calling for recognition of “our prophetic Mormon brothers and sisters,” as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and “black Baptists like myself.”

The crowd gamely applauded. But the biggest roars came when West called out “the progressive agnostic and atheistic brothers and sisters” — a response that seemed to illuminate the largely secular underpinnings of the Occupy Wall Street movement and a challenge now facing the religious left.

There have been flashes of religious activism, even deeply religious moments, in the protest movement that has spread across the country this past month. Some have suggested that the Occupy camps themselves have some hallmarks of a religious movement, with their all-embracing idealism, daily rituals, focus on something larger than the self.

But as the recent incident involving West suggests, the movement also has served to point out not just the gulf between haves and have-nots in modern America, but between the religious right and not-so-religious left.


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TJ Hudson

For another Christian view of this issue, see

This young Anglican Dominican novice is a Maori who sees this as just another occupation aimed at those who have already been displaced and mistreated for centuries.

Is the Occupy movement simply demanding a piece of the pie – or a way to improve the lives of the marginalized and mistreated?

Rev. Tom Hudson, OPA


But the biggest roars came when West called out “the progressive agnostic and atheistic brothers and sisters” — a response that seemed to illuminate the largely secular underpinnings of the Occupy Wall Street movement

Jesus wept. Christians SHOULD be at the forefront of ANY challenge by the powerless to the powerful. The secular left SHOULD be asking “What Would Christians Do?”

That they don’t, is indictment of those who claim the name of Christ, while NOT following him!

JC Fisher

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