Christian groups: we will bodily protect Occupy London from St Paul's

British Christian groups have vowed to protect the Occupy London tent-city out front of St Paul's cathedral by surrounding it with a "circle of prayer" in the event that the cathedral attempts to evict the protesters.

Christian groups that have publicly sided with the protesters include one of the oldest Christian charities, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the oldest national student organisation, the Student Christian Movement, Christianity Uncut, the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust and the Christian magazine Third Way. In addition, London Catholic Worker, the Society of Sacramental Socialists and Quaker groups have offered their support.

A statement by the groups said: "As Christians, we stand alongside people of all religions who are resisting economic injustice with active nonviolence. The global economic system perpetuates the wealth of the few at the expense of the many. It is based on idolatrous subservience to markets. We cannot worship both God and money."

Bartley said: "There are some very unhappy people within the Church of England. The protesters seem to articulate many of the issues that the church has paid lip-service to. Many people are disillusioned with the position St Paul's has adopted. To evict rather than offer sanctuary is contrary to what many people think the church is all about. The whole thing has been a car crash."

Occupy London could be protected by Christian ring of prayer


    1. How does one protect protestors with prayer?

      Actually that will probably work. St Paul’s is run by priests, and it would mean they would have to order the police to forcibly break up a public prayer meeting. Regardless of what they think about the protest, that would be unconscionable.

  1. Apparently, American jesus-enthusiasts are better at multitasking than their counterparts in the old country…

  2. Bravo to those Christians in the U.K. for standing up for & living what Christianity is supposed to be about.
    Those of the ‘extremist religious right’ in the U.S. seem to have either missed or forgotten the ‘message’ & seem driven to force their own narrow-minded & self-centred agendas on others.
    I’m not religious, but I do admire those who are caring & giving.

  3. When people walk their talk, it’s a wonderful thing.  If there is a heaven, these folks deserve it.  And if there’s a hell, well, 1-20% of the US better get more flattering speedos.

  4. Great news. With the right-wing fundies having completely hijacked Christianity in the United States, it’s nice to be reminded just how well… socialist and solidarity-encouraging… Christ’s actions and teachings were.

    Not a big fan of religion, but hats off to anyone who is genuine, rather than hypocritical about their beliefs.

    1. The US thing is interesting when you consider how, up until as recently as the 70’s, the centre of progressive  political will in the US was essentially built around religious groups.

      Tou can actulally make a pretty good case that progressive movements lost a lot of their political muscle around the same time that things began to get hijacked by the moral majority.  Even on the slightly conservative end of things you used to have people like Billy Graham.  Let alone things like the Catholic Worker movement.

  5. Christianity Uncut

    Bow chicka bow-boww

    *ahem* I mean, yes, I agree with most of the above comments. It’s good to see people actually living the doctrine they claim to adhere to. It makes me interested to know more about them, perhaps to seed a bit more personal hope for the wretched race of naked apes.

  6. Christians vs The City of London Corporation, ooh this is going to be interesting! I’m assuming now that the Guardian reported on the Corporations activities 3 days ago everyone knows the City is a private state in it’s own right? The Queen has to dress-down in order to enter? Most of the worlds exchanges flow through the City? :)

    1. Yeah. If you read up on London there’s a certain amount of ‘Wait, the Lord Mayor can do what now?!’

  7. Say what now?  Christians acting like…Christians??

    I’m not floored, but impressed…yes, this impresses me.  Peace unto the peaceful…The big guy would be proud.

    But please please please all those that dare to Occupy: keep the peace.  Live in the non-violence.  Do not allow the madness of others drive you to mad acts. . .the shame of Oakland speaks for itself.

    The world is watching.  This is a case when dripping water can have more results than a raging volcano.

  8. Maybe the Christian groups in London should come as missionaries to the United States and bring Christianity to the Christians here?

    1. Maybe the Christian groups in London should come as missionaries to the United States and bring Christianity to the Christians here?

      There are plenty of Christian Christians here in the US. You just don’t see them on the teevee. My wife’s (Mennonite) church is heading down to Occupy Boston this week for hanging out and singing and general support.

    1. @Inspector:  How is it hypocritical?  As Christians they should be following the teachings of Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t exactly a follower of the law! He got his followers to eat grain that didn’t belong to them which was clearly against the law (although to be pedantic the law was more about the TIME they took it, not the LOCATION).  

      As for his attitude to property – He stated that his followers should simply give their property to anyone who asked – as long they had enough to cover their own needs.  (“If someone asks for your coat and you have another – give it to him.”)  Not ‘you should be a wise steward with your property and not give it to others unless you’ve carefully evaluated their usage of it’.  Simply give it to them.  If someone sues you?  Give them twice what they ask for … even if the lawsuit is rubbish.   

      Obviously no follower of Jesus is ever going to get rich or have possessions more than a single coat – but that is how Jesus lived and how he told his followers to live.

      So yes – given Jesus’s disdain for property –  I would imagine that a true follower of Jesus wouldn’t have a problem with this use of property to protest against the money lenders – since Jesus himself even picked up a whip and drove out the money lenders himself!  (Yes – under modern US law he was definitely guilty of ‘Assault with a Deadly weapon’ – although he’d probably plea bargain it down.  So I’m not sure what would have been on his rapsheet. )

      Or did you mean that as true followers of Jesus they should actually use violence (or at least whips) to drive the money lenders out .. just like Jesus himself did?

      Hmm … that’s a thought.

      (Edited to add: I just checked – it was the money CHANGERS he was guilty of using violence against in the assault – I should have checked his rap sheet. So it was the foreign exchange dealers rather than the mortgage brokers. Just in case you want to be sure that you assault the approved group)

      1. @Mac: It is hypocritical because Jesus did not advocate feeding the poor by taking your neighbor’s food.  If these Christians want to provide a place for the Occupy protesters to congregate, they should offer their own homes or other property.  It is not Christian to demand that someone else house them.

        1. They’re not demanding that other people give up their homes – they’re demanding that a house of God allow them to stay.  As Christians – and for all we know, congregants of St. Paul’s – that’s their right, because the church building morally belongs to the church.

          1. Sure, these Christians have a right to ask the church to house the protesters.  They don’t have a right to form a blockade to keep the protesters from being lawfully evicted (except insofar as the police have a corresponding right to arrest the lot of them).

        2. “Not Christian” to demand that a church should shelter people? You really aren’t familiar with this whole Christianity thing, are you?

          I’d agree in a heartbeat that it’s not Libertarian. But it’s kind of hard to confuse the two.

          1. Miss the point often?  What is “not Christian” is trying to force someone else — in this case, St. Paul’s — to do what you want them to do.

          2. St. Paul’s is the congregation.  The congregation have every right to demand that the building and grounds be open.

          3. A church is not its congregation.  (This is not advanced epistemology or law.)  A church’s decision process is not “give in to the people most willing to gum up the process”.  (This certainly is not rocket science.)  Members of the congregation can ask for whatever they want.  What they cannot do — under either church or secular law — is force the church to act according to their wishes.  I can only assume your insistence on using the word “demand” is an attempt to blur those categories and thereby justify an un-Christian and illegal act.

          4. A church is not its congregation.  (This is not advanced epistemology or law.)

            Perhaps not a CoE one like St Paul’s, but this isn’t universally true. Notably, the Congregational Churches and the Baptists take a rather different view.

          5. That doctrine is stating an identity in a rather metaphysical sense.  It certainly does not bind the Church of England (much less a particular division of it) to the will of the local congregants, and the overall doctrine makes it clear that the people are not in charge.  On top of that, the idea that these “Christian groups” attend St. Paul’s is (so far unsupported) speculation.

          6. What is “not Christian” is trying to force someone else — in this case, St. Paul’s — to do what you want them to do.

            All else aside (like the fact that St. Paul’s is not “someone else”), when God says “worship me or I will make you eternally suffer a fate worse than death” he is doing what, exactly?

          7. I am not trying to defend religion here — although deities have always gotten a special pass to set rules for their followers — just the right of a particular church to control its own property in a way that it believes serves its creed and its followers.  I object to the idea, widely supported in this comment thread, that the supporters of the Occupy protesters should have some privilege that lets them overrule the church’s decisions about access to its property.

            (If these people really were St. Paul’s, as you seem to think they are, why would they need to engage in civil disobedience for protesters to stay?)

          8. That’s the thing though. Christians – as in those who care about what Christ said and did – really ought not to care about “rights”, “property”, or “control”, and if they ever found themselves with any of the the three, they should be giving them away to the first person to need them or the first person to ask.

          9. If you don’t like what St. Paul’s is doing, take it up with the people in charge there.

            Jesus probably did not talk much about respecting other peoples’ property because he assumed people would remember and obey the commandments about not stealing and not coveting your neighbor’s house or other property.  He never said “If your neighbor is being a bit stingy, keep him out of his house and let a bunch of hippies camp there and make a mess of it.  Do this in my name, amen.”  As far as I remember, he also never prioritized convenience of protest (futile, as this is, or not) over sanitation or over people coming together in worship.

          10. You’re missing the point. It’s not that everyone cannot ever oppose, hinder, and criticise the Occupy movement, it is that Christians cannot deny comfort to the Occupy movement without betraying the teachings of Christ.

            And its refreshing to see one group of Christians start being active in pointing this out.

          11. And I think you missed the point of my first sentence.

            Jesus never said that if your neighbor — or your church — was being insufficiently generous, you can override their decision.  Perhaps you and the “Christian groups” here think housing the protesters is important enough to break the law and risk arrest.  That’s fine; civil disobedience has a long and respectable history, and it is sometimes the only way to bring enough attention to unjust laws or decisions.  However, no one should trick themselves into thinking the “Christian groups” have a legal or even moral right to physically block the protesters from being evicted.

        3. @Entrope:disqus .  No Jesus did not advocate feeding the poor by taking your neighbour’s food..
          Rather than just advocating it he went one better and actually did it.

          Yep – he actually took his neighbour’s food to feed his followers.   That’s right – he and his followers literally walked into fields that didn’t belong to them and took grain.     It’s in the Bible – Luke 6:1-4

          He was criticised by the law at the time for it. 

          So far, we know that Jesus took food that didn’t belong to him and picked up a weapon and attacked money changers.

          That may not be the ‘Jesus’ that we were taught about at school – but it is the historical character.   Sometimes morality isn’t as cut & dry as we’d like to teach our kids.

        4. 1) Standing with the protesters is not stealing anyone’s food. 
          2) Church may be on the city books as “private property” but it’s been funded by public money (the people who sit in the pews), it’s open to everyone, and Christians have every right to stand there, whatever the fellows in Rome may think. 
          3) If you had actually read Mac’s comment, you’d know that Jesus actually seemed to be OK taking grain from a farmer’s field when he and his bros needed something to eat.

          1. 1) There is quite a big difference between “standing with the protesters” and “standing around the protesters to keep them from being lawfully evicted”.

            2) Your logic is bogus on every count: For one thing, the people in the pews do not give money with the assumption that they can make decisions on how to use the church, there are still rules about how to treat the area, and St. Paul’s is not a Catholic church so it probably doesn’t care what people in Rome or the Vatican think.

            3) And if you had actually read the Bible verses Mac mentioned, you would know that the ownership of the fields was not mentioned, and that it is really a story about how to interpret the commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy.

  9. Wait, these groups are supporting Occupy and forcing the CofE hierarchy ask difficult questions about their priorities? I like them.

  10. ‘Religion’ corrupts. Just as money, power and influence corrupt. The religious among us (read spiritual if you like) they are just you and I, ordinary people.

    What we’re seeing is the clear and unambiguous divide between Big Church, in the shadow of money and institution and little church, in the light of everyday love, courtesy and generosity.

    1. Very true that.

      The loose thread that untangled my catholic faith was not some theological issue, it was the whole edifice of the Catholic church. Once I’d started picking away at that, the rest didn’t stand a chance.

      For what it’s worth, Christ, if he existed, was a pretty awesome guy with some fantastic ideas to try to live by.

  11. This is going to be fascinating to watch play out.

    For the first time in a long time I think an increasing slice of the quiet middle classes here in the UK are beginning to understand that they are not part of the group that benefits from the current system. In previous decades the middle classes haven’t rocked the boat because they either felt part of the ruling classes, or aspired to be part. Now there is a growing realisation that they never have been and never will be part of that ruling class, which is much smaller and more elite than they ever imagined.  This economic cluster-fuck we are in is affecting way more people in much more insidious ways than some of the previous screw-ups, and it’s hitting the middle classes hard, with high inflation outpacing negligible interest rates and pay rises, and increasing numbers of middle class jobs being outsourced etc.

    An increasing number of people who are not what anyone would regard as being radical are joining these protests. The result is not just that it’s gaining wider support, but also the stereotypes being painted by the media start to look more and more stupid.

    When the people of the CofE (no known for their radical views) start to get pissed off, you know something is seriously up.

    Oh, and a big cheer for the Quakers, this lapsed catholics favorite christian bunch. They rock, and always have. If I was religious I’d want to be a Quaker.

    1. Quakers rock, not quake! Definite T-shirt there somewhere…

      But yes, if I were to join a religion, being a spiritual kinda fella, they’d be my choice too.

      Actually, when you start looking though, you find many Christians who are wonderful, generous people, you just don’t hear about most of them because as you’d expect, they are quite unassuming.

      Can’t speak for the states, but I assume it isn’t so far removed there. We probably only tend to hear about republican right wingers or the creationists, rather than the mainstream.

    2. I’m of the opinion there should be a church of lapsed catholicism.

      Every sunday we could get together and feel vague sense of guilt about everything we’ve done in the past week.

  12. The meek shall inherit the earth, as soon as they fully awake to the wide spread intentionally deceptive misuse of our created abstract tools of Governments, Economic Systems, Philosophies, Business and of course the abstract tool of value representation known as money. For if money had any relevance left  to real value, then can someone show me the less than zero real value the world bankruptcies suggest exist? And how is it that we all know working in team we can produce more than we need, yet  this abstraction of money is allowed to drain from that honesty? There is only one answer, the abstract tool of money has become a lie.

    1. You’re not wrong bro.

      I’m trying to get a real skills barter site going, not a replacement for money, not something which preserves the inequalities of value which hold accounting, legal representation and banking above lathe turners, or farmers, or basket weavers or even honest to god painters and decorators…

      Money is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet.

  13. I was pleasantly surprised when I read this – but that’s wrong.  The only reason I have such a strong association between Christianity and conservatism is due to American media.

    English Christian’s are actually pretty Christian.

    I’m not sure at what point American Christians forgot what Christianity was actually about (sweeping generalisation based on media representation).

  14. This is a nice story. But [big sigh], we just had to have all the, “US Christians are a bunch of right-wing creeps” comments, too, eh?

    We’re not. Almost every nice, liberal, left-wing, socialist good-guy I know is also Christian. I’m pretty sure our President is. Tens of millions of us have no truck with anything like the televangelist yay-hoos-Michelle-Bachman-style-Christianism.

    Please refrain from making sweeping, stereotypical comments. You’d be pissed if people lumped reasonable liberals and lefties in with, say, Che Guevara, etc. Continue to point out the specific bad behavior of Christian (and other) groups. I’m fine with that. But if the knee-jerk response, every time the word “Christian” pops into a discussion, is going to be unfounded, gross generalizations of US Christians, that’s just trolling.

    1. I am very sorry. Our media has woefully misrepresented you, and I bought into it. I guess this just goes to show how divisive our country has become. 

      It begs the question of who the GOP, in its current state, really even answers to anymore.

    2. It may just be trolling, but to say most christians are more reactionary, conservative, and closedminded than the average human is also accurate.   I am a christian, but of the sort rejected by most other christians.

      Christianity (modern american style) is an attempt to give otherwise nice people reasons to feel apart from and superior to a bunch of otherwise nice people, and blame the other people for being the source of that distance.

      1. In America, the “average” person is Christian. In lots of other places, I’m pretty sure that even a traditionally conservative US Christian (ie, not a Tea Partier, but someone with reasonable yet conservative beliefs) would compare favorably in terms of open-mindedness. Regardless of what you think about US Christians, you don’t find them killing each other over obscure issues of dogma, preventing women from voting/driving, or forming war-bands out of kidnapped youngsters.

        Yes… there are lots of things I do not like about many of the most vocal, right-wing, close-minded US Christians. But (again) gross generalizations aren’t helpful.

        1. Regardless of what you think about US Christians, you don’t find them killing each other over obscure issues of dogma, preventing women from voting/driving, or forming war-bands out of kidnapped youngsters.

          I guess that you don’t consider Mormons to be Christians. And as to the war bands, there are churches teaching children to be warriors for Jesus, and not the spiritual kind. Just because they haven’t attacked yet doesn’t mean that they’re not there.

          1. Really? That’s what you’re going with? A few whack-job Christians who have used “warrior language” means that, eventually, they’re going to start planting IEDs outside synagogues, mosques and Catholic churches?

            I guess that because a few US lefties in the past have used bombs/guns, it’s only a matter of time until the OWS folks pick up arms and begin executing day traders.

            You’re making my point for me.

  15. The church has no obligation to support any group of anybodies. These are not individuals humbly asking for asylum from an oppressor. They are anonymous protesters responsible for the church’s first closure since WWII, and are disrupting their daily services.

    The Christian thing to do is not so easy to spell out. Sure, Jesus said to give away your extra coat and whipped the money lenders, but this is just glossing the surface.

    Read the “Parable of the Laborers,” or the “Parable of the Talents,”  or Matthew 22:21. Jesus has some hard words about taxation and wealth.

    The good advice isn’t limited to the New Testament. If everyone had heeded Proverbs 22:7 we could have avoided this whole mess, altogether.

    I think the biggest issue here is not the protesters or the use of Church property, but the sin of Christians reveling in their theological and political differences and airing their divisions on the front page.

    1. I think the biggest issue here is not the protesters or the use of Church property, but the sin of Christians reveling in their theological and political differences and airing their divisions on the front page.

      So the first duty of Christian leaders is to protect their corporate image?

      1. Cute. ISWYDT, however, it still seems that these other groups are acting out of hubris and sowing division where they could have participated in finding a solution. 

        Standing with the protesters, the Christian groups might have done well to learn some of their tricks and tried to come to a consensus with the administration at St. Paul.

        As we are continuing to see, a collection of people, whether they call themselves a movement or a religion, are quickly distracted from their priorities when they make little effort towards reconciliation or agreement. 

  16. Has the concept of out staying your welcome not occurred to these people?
    I thought the idea was to occupy lsx, not St Paul’s?
    The fact they were given a sympathetic welcome surely puts a moral onus on them not to abuse that goodwill. This is very poor tactics.

    1. I thought the idea was to occupy lsx, not St Paul’s?

      They are occupying LSX. Thing is that St Paul’s is across the street from LSX. They’ve done their best to arrange themselves so as to not block access to the cathedral – there’s a wide path to it – and are quite unhappy about the fact that (a) the media keeps focussing on St Paul’s, and (b) despite doing everything they’ve been asked to do short of going home, and not having received any further requests, the cathedral authorities seem to have decided that their presence is a problem.

  17. re: Christians acting like Christians.

    Bleh – give me a break. Most Christians are decent and charitable. Most PEOPLE are decent and charitable It is their vocal minorities that makes the news and presents the faith and other groups in a negative light. 

  18. i don’t know who you are generalizing about with your “killing each other over obscure issues of dogma” comment… but it really does sound like you are grossly generalizing about another religion. Which I heard isn’t helpful.

    It would also be unhelpful of me to generalize about the christians bombing women’s health clinics (and I remember the sustained bombing campaign in 80s) and murdering gynecologists who perform abortions..  – but I would say your generalizations about christians not doing that (maybe that isn’t obscure enough an issue of dogma to be upset about?) are also unhelpful.

  19. Mike Kevitt, here.  Now that I know I can post a comment here, here’s my actual comment vice the unsubstantial, two word one, above.
    The Ch. of Eng. is considered a “State” church & accorded, by the gvt., what’s considered fitting status & respect. Thus, this church & its property (cathederals, churches, etc.), which accepts it, engages in basically illigitimate activity, as does the gvt., which grants it, as does the people, who allow it.  Religion is not a gvt. function in ANY country; it’s a private function for whoever wants it, for one’s self.  So, this church has given up some rights, including some property rights.  So, maybe the “Occupy” protesters are on public land, thus don’t need the church’s approval.  But, the gvt., in its proper function, might still shoo’em out, of its own accord.  If the church wasn’t a “State” church, it would have its perrogative, which it could exercise freely, & the gvt. might have to turn to, and shoo’em out.  In any event, the “Occupy” protesters must consider & make sure of themselves, of their compliance with property rights & of their own notion of nonviolence, when exercising their own rights.

    1. The Ch. of Eng. is considered a “State” church & accorded, by the gvt., what’s considered fitting status & respect. [etc…]

      I don’t think you know anything about the CoE.

      It has a couple of ties left to the UK government, but is financially independent (receiving no government funding), owns all its own property, and in no sense is it influenced or controlled by the government any more than any other religious organisation in the country.

      The remaining ties are:

      26 bishops of the CoE have seats in the House of Lords, and hence have some influence over legislation. However they are a tiny minority.

      Some ceremonial functions involve the CoE, such as royal weddings.

      That’s it. The whole thing is basically vestigial. Hopefully this makes it clear why your rant is woefully inaccurate.

  20. FWIW, there are a lot of American Christians who walk the walk as far as liberal actions and beliefs go. The fundamental (ha) difference is that in the US the more conservative branches are very loud, very attention seeking and very outrageous. So, you hear about Westbro’s outrage du jour, but not folks protesting the School of the Americas. You hear about Pat Roberson’s idiotic gay telitubies, but not the Dorthy Day homes, the gay bashers but not those fighting for gay rights, doing homeless outreach and generally being fantastic people. I am not christian… I am not religious…but I know a lot of folks who are, who I am proud to call friends and companions in the struggle against bigotry and injustice. I tell you, if OWS hits the right nerve it could mobilize a hell of a lot of Christians.

  21. Man, nothing brings out obnoxious, sweeping generalizations here more than religion. These are nice folks doing a nice thing for OWS London. Most of the congregants at St. Paul’s support OWS and they are getting support from cousin organizations. Nothing special, but very nice nonetheless. Instead of having  a contest over who is most progressive, who is the least hypocritical, and who doesn’t have ulterior motives, can we just be glad more and more people are getting on board with OWS? Using peaceful means?

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