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“Occupy” is not a faith movement

You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m about to get all political again.

There have been a number of blog posts and news articles – such as this one by Tom Hodgkinson in the Independent – recently referring to the Occupy movement (here in the UK, at least) as being “fundamentally Christian”. OccupyLondon have posted a response to this, but I have a few thoughts on the matter myself.

I think that people have gotten this idea isn’t just due to the focus on the tensions involving the OccupyLondon camp at St Paul’s, but also arguably due to the Flash Evensongs organised by Kathryn Rose, though those were not actually intended to be seen as actually part of OccupyLSX – they were an independent response to the closure of St Paul’s. They were an Anglican reaction, primarily organised by the laity though with the involvement of clergy, aimed at enabling people who would customarily have attended Evensong services at st Paul’s to be able to still partake in an Anglican Evensong service. Unfortunately, arising as they did through the actions of OccupyLSX and taking place in proximity to the camp they were perhaps inevitably viewed as being part of the Occupy protest, even though that was not the intention – and indeed all who took part, from Kathryn herself and the clergy who preached, through to the lay choristers such as myself, were at some pains to state publically that we were not taking sides either for or against the Occupy protest and were simply there in direct response to the faith needs of St Paul’s parishioners.

Though I am speaking primarily on behalf of myself and through personal observation, I think I would be correct in stating that it was not our – that is to say, FlashEvensong participants – intention to give the impression that Occupy is a Christian movement. We were simply there to worship according to our custom. We couldn’t do it inside the church – so we did it outside instead. It’s unfortunate that our mere presence appears to have branded the Occupy protest here in the UK as “Christian”. That was never our intent. The Occupy movement worldwide is one that encompasses both all faiths and none. The fact that many of OccupyLSX aims and tenets are in accord with Christian ethos is neither here nor there – you could just as easily refer to them as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Humanist. Such labels are meaningless however.

The Occupy movement is fundamentally a moral movement that strives for justice and equality, and it demeans both the movement and those protesting to reduce it to mere religion. The 99% are not just Christians. They are everyone. It is not simply a Christian problem.

You may think that this isn’t of interest to you; perhaps you don’t think of yourself as a political person. To tell you the truth, neither did I. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realise that caring about things makes you political. If you live, breathe, and actually give a damn about something other than yourself – you’re political. Even if you don’t realise that yet. If you’re Christian – then you’re political; to think otherwise is to delude yourself.

The “Occupy” movement is not Christian – but it is the duty of every Christian to be informed and to think about these issues; because they affect every single one of us. Us, our families, our neighbours, our society – and ultimately that of every country in the world. We’re all in this together. We all have to be political. We all have to care.


About arkadyrose

Genderqueer artist, singer, musician, writer, tailor, mead-mazer and doll crafter living in Walthamstow, NE London.


6 thoughts on ““Occupy” is not a faith movement

  1. People, especially those in media, tend to be lazy and want to pigeon-hole things into previously thought-up categories. That gives them all their opinions, talking-points, and directions for exploration as part of the package.

    Posted by Peter H. Coffin | Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 2:47 pm
  2. There’s also an interesting commentary here from Simon Barrow, a Co-Director of Ekklesia:


    Posted by Tony Sidaway | Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 3:00 pm
  3. (That’s where I got the LondonLSX quote from).

    Posted by Tony Sidaway | Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 3:00 pm
  4. As a new yorker, I can attest to that. I find it interesting that in the UK people see the Occupy movements as christian from one event.
    But, this british case proves my point about the regionality of the Occupy movements. People have a lot of local economic concerns, which are global because of the structure of the global economy.
    but, local issues are what needs addressing? I wonder, do you think the occupy london crowd can become a political party in England?

    Posted by ch4wordpress | Thursday, November 17, 2011, 4:21 am
    • Sadly, I don’t think they could. Every single thing in the camp has to be discussed to death in General Assembly – even “outsiders” who are actually trying to help them. For example: the Corporation of the City of London is seeking to evict them, St Paul’s is not. The question of land ownership in that particular area is complex; Land Registry records are incomplete – and you actually get charged for each search you request!) so it’s not clear who owns what. It’s a mix of church land, Corp land and common land with no-one entirely sure who owns what. We’d managed to get some information, so we were going to do some mapping using GPS to try and establish the precise perimeter of the camp as it stands, and where it’s on church land and where it isn’t. In the meantime I’ve been trying to get access to London Underground’s asset maps for the area, as anything over and within 100m either side of a London Underground line belongs to TfL, and they keep pretty detailed records of who owns everything else around – far more detailed than the Land registry (they need this in case of any incident requiring access or any physical events affecting the tunnel structures that impinge on structural integrity of nearby buildings). Whilst waiting on this, the two other people I’d been investigating this with went down to the camp to get some GPS data to work with – and were stopped by camp members who demanded to know if we’d run this past GA first. They insisted we run the whole idea passed GA before we would be permitted to work on our own crowdsourced mapping project that we’d initiated to help them! They spend more time debating everything to death than they do actually doing it, and the phrase “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery” springs to mind. So the thought of them actually co-ordinating enough to agree on a clear policy and manifesto and campaign effectively? Sorry, I sadly can’t see it happening. The general public other than tourists in the St Paul’s area would be pretty much oblivious of their existence, let alone their aims, if it weren’t for all the early farce with the church, and unless St Paul’s throw in officially with them and take up their cause legally to back them against the Corporation then I suspect they’ll still be arguing about the right way to do things up to the moment the bulldozers roll in.

      They mean well, but sadly they are rather ineffective even as a protest. We have better hopes in talks between the students and the unions right now.

      (Incidentally we’re still working on the crowdsource mapping because hey, geeks and maps – what’s not to love about that? Plus we’ve now seen the map attached to the Corp’s eviction notices and we’re pretty damned sure the sneaky blighters are claiming common land is theirs – it’s bloody Enclosure all over again.)

      Posted by arkadyrose | Thursday, November 17, 2011, 9:51 am

Arkady Rose

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