Protesters outside St. Paul’s Cathedral challenge churches to stand with them. Photo: Crispin Semmens, wikimedia Commons
Residents of the Occupy London camp outside St. Paul’s Cathedral are challenging church and society to consider their stance on global economics.
Speaking to the U.K.-based USPG [the 300-year-old Anglican United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel]) mission agency, residents of the campsite-now past its 100th day-were clear in their belief that Christians should stand on the side of the marginalized and the poor, and against the drive for profit at any cost.
Resident Tammy Samede said: “Jesus himself was a protester. He fought for economic and social justice. He threw the money lenders out of the temple because they were taking advantage of the poor.” Samede expressed her gratitude for Christian support for Occupy London-including plans for a prayer circle to be formed around the camp on the day when eviction orders are finally issued (expected at the end of January).
Campaigner George Barda said: “We are part of a global movement. If enough people are inspired, we have a chance of tackling global injustice issues. We have a system in which profit is put above development and the environment. Anything to do with values is way down the pecking order, so we are desperately trying to pick up the pieces caused by the institutionalized drive to maximize profit.
“This is about establishing a global framework that will tackle poverty and injustice. I support the idea of compassionate revolution. This was Jesus’ message. He talked about turning the world upside down. We need to take power from the top and redistribute it to the majority on a compassionate basis.”
Matthew Varnham, a resident who also acts as the campsite’s legal liaison, said: “We’re not saying we have the answer. This is all about encouraging people to have a discussion about what we want our society to look like and what we want our world to look like.
The Occupy movement represents an opportunity to really engage with issues in a way that hasn’t been available before. The momentum is here-we should make the most of it.”
USPG’s chief executive, Janette O’Neil, explained that USPG is actively working with international church partners to tackle injustice and the poverty gap. “Whatever your view of Occupy, they are bringing important issues to the attention of society and the church,” she said. “In all of this, we pray that Christ’s message will be uppermost, urging us all to choose compassion and justice over greed.”