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.