Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Occupy St. Paul's: Story Continues to Unfold

And finally today, a quick update to a story about which I blogged briefly some days ago.  As I noted on 16 October, the Occupy protesters in London occupied the space in front of St. Paul's Cathedral on the weekend of 15-16 October.  One of the primary reasons they chose this space is that it's contiguous to the London Stock Exchange.

This is a story that continues to unfold, as it's now being reported that St. Paul's has sought to suppress the publication of a document produced by the St. Paul's Institute that reportedly excoriates the immoral behavior of bankers in helping to create the current worldwide financial crisis.  As Daniel Schultz notes at Religion Dispatches, there's increasing pressure from the city of London to remove the protesters from their current space in front of St. Paul's, and the cathedral canon who had defended their right to be there from the outset, Giles Fraser, has resigned in protest.  

But as Schultz also notes, one has to wonder what signal such a resignation gives, when the church itself--all mainline churches--are so inextricably interwoven with the establishment and its financial structures that any critique of economic immorality will inevitably impinge on the churches themselves as part of the problem, due to their collusion with social elites who benefit from the current massive maldistribution of wealth.  Schultz also notes that a variety of Christian groups who pull against the trend of collusion with the powers that be are noting that, if the city tries to remove the protesters from in front of St. Paul, they'll surround them with a circle of prayer to try to protect them from police action.

And for a subsequent, up-to-the-moment report, see Theo Hobson's article this morning, also at Religion Dispatches, which notes that Fraser's resignation has led to the Church of England's worst drubbing in many years in the secular media.  Hobson writes, 

The strange saga has put the spotlight on the role of England’s established Church. Is it capable of expressing the Mammon-averse ethic of Jesus, or is it, despite some warm words about fairness, in cahoots with the plutocrats? Can an institution that has benefited from capitalism for so long remain in touch with the egalitarian vision it professes?

This is a story that will bear watching, for those of us interested in the religious underpinnings of the Occupy movement, and its connect to organized religious groups.

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