Religion Joins 'Occupy Wall Street' Movement

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By Daniel Distant, Christian Post Reporter
October 24, 2011|10:39 am

Although the Occupy protests have generally been a secular movement, various forms of spirituality have found its way into the protests as of late.

The focal point of holy encouragement in the movements has been Boston, whose Occupy Dewey Square movement has a “Sacred Space,” according to the Associated Press.

The Boston Occupy protests have taken measures to make sure religion is represented while they voice their disapproval; a tent with an assortment of religious paraphernalia is intolerant of shoes, but very tolerant of the various religions it represents.

Dan Sieradski, a Jewish services organizer at Occupy Wall Street, proves that religion and activism do mix: “Faith communities do need to be present and need to be welcomed in order for this to be an all-encompassing movement that braces all sectors of society,” he said, AP wrote.

Although no single religious institution has publicly decried or endorsed Occupy Wall Street or any of the associated groups, Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago-based religious group, distributes an interfaith prayer service guide for all the movements.

Perhaps the reason no religious organizations has fully backed the movements is because they’re still speculating what part they would play.

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Rev. Katharine Henderson, president of the Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, said, “As religious leaders, we want to be ‘repairers of the breach’ (from Isaiah 58:12)…So the question is how can we come together, Wall Street and Main Street, to come up with solutions that are going to work for all of us?” reported AP.

Historically, religion and spirituality have had a place in public uprisings. In perhaps the most well-known modern movement, the Civil Rights protests were led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was also a reverend and head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Even King, who pushed for nonviolent demonstration, didn’t invent the idea; he imitated another spiritual leader, Mohandas Gandhi, in the Indian struggle for civil rights.

Rev. Stephanie Sellers, an Episcopalian “protest chaplain,” told AP, “Every movement for social change that has really made a difference has included the power of God, the power of one spirit and the power of people of conscience.”

The Occupy movement has certainly made a difference, but will it affect change? A solution is yet to be found.

In Chicago, 130 protestors were arrested Sunday, with police stating that arrests would continue if the demonstrations did.

Philadelphia’s smaller, but no less determined Occupy group, blocked a street across from a police station Sunday, resulting in 15 arrests.

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