Skip Navigation | Sheffield IMC | UK IMC | Editorial Guidelines | Mission Statement | About Us | Contact | Help | Support Us

UK Indymedia UK Indymedia Sheffield Indymedia Sheffield Indymedia

#Occupy and the Church

Mark Barrett and Ginger Haag @OccupyLSX | 09.01.2012 14:13 | Occupy Everywhere | Analysis | Sheffield | World

“What would Jesus do?” asked a pithy placard at the Occupy the London Stock Exchange protest recently. It seems rather obvious in a way. For some the answer was given in another St Paul’s placard, carried by a man dressed as Jesus “I threw out the money-lenders for a reason”. Of course we’re not in Jerusalem, nor are we technically in a temple.



But according to David Cameron’s speech to mark the anniversary of the King James Bible, we have a dire need to “return to Christian morals”, and we the people should revive “what we stand for” and go back to the Bible to define ”the kind of society we want to build.” Some Occupy supporters may agree with some of these sentiments. We are a ‘broad church’ and the Bible, and the Jesus it portrays does contain a lot of progressive political references. Plus the idea of reformulating what we are about as a nation sounds quite democratic.

There is, however, a dissonant note associated with a politician – the politician - lecturing the masses on returning to Christian morals. As Luke 16:13 has Jesus himself saying: “No servant can serve two masters.. you cannot serve God and mammon.” Cameron’s economic nationalism should also grate on Christian souls.The world needs international co-operation to solve its many problems, and Christendom was never ‘Little England.’ In fact, for most of its history it was associated with Europe as a whole ,and further afield. Yet Cameron retreats pointlessly from the European project just when we should be pulling together against the dictatorial power of the financial markets.

David Cameron’s visionary idea for Britain was ‘the big society’. Revd Giles Fraser says “one can imagine Jesus being born in the protest camp” and the early Christian movement was one of the biggest ‘big society’ movements in history. In a way those hardy souls camping out, in an effort to transform the system are the closest thing we have to a functioning global – big – society. Yet Cameron’s government has recently legislated to ban political camping!

The energy, practices and idealism Occupy embodies is a potentially huge, productive motor around which to build a new, enlightened economy. Yet no major politician has been willing to engage with the movement on its own terms. All we ever hear from them is words of demonisation or co-option.

However the church is quite a different matter. As Giles Fraser put it recently: “Occupy .. begins .. with the idea that lasting change is only possible if more people are sucked into the conversation, more of us educate each other as to the workings and effects of a dysfunctional economy… Remember the total non-event that was Tony Blair's Big Conversation? Well, this is how you do it properly”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/12/occupy-starfish-regenerate-protest

Or, as the Archbishop of Canterbury himself put it earlier in the year: “A democracy going beyond populism or majoritarianism but also beyond a Balkanised focus on the local that fixed in stone a variety of postcode lotteries; a democracy capable of real argument about shared needs and hopes and real generosity: any takers?”  http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2011/06/long-term-government-democracy

It is now commonly agreed that debt-based finance capitalism has failed us, and from within Occupy that we need alternative, civic institutions to develop our collective understanding, and transform society. Unlike the state and the market, civil society does not yet have a recognised political form, but through the promotion of its egalitarian Assembly model of decision-making, that is exactly what many in Occupy are hoping to create.

The roots of organised religion are radical and quite relevant today. The early Church was a decentralised, counter-cultural and international movement in which persecuted Christians promoted forgiveness of sins (including oppressive debts), interest-free lending, mutual support and common ownership. Going back further, the Old Testament refers repeatedly to ideals of economic justice and in particular of debt-cancellation and 'jubilee'. So, in the spirit of the recent Christmas season, and right at the start of a new ('Diamond Jubilee') year, an interesting question comes to mind. Could Occupy and the church join forces in 2012?

Working together, nationally and internationally could we not make alternative civic institutions to develop, quoting the Archbishop of Canterbury again a conversation about "who.. we are as a society" and “a long-term education policy at every level that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy”?  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/25/archbishop-of-canterbury-rowan-williams-christmas_n_1169168.html

On the wider, European level, this would chime with the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sack's recent call for European Jews and Christians together to "rediscover .. faith and prophetic voice" and to "recover the Judeo-Christian ethic of human dignity in the image of God. Humanity was not created to serve markets. Markets were created to serve humankind"  http://www.chiefrabbi.org/ReadArtical.aspx?id=1845

In our broken times, with people neglected and the community fabric undone, a well-organised common endeavour between the church, Occupy and other civil society actors could help revitalise the true spirit of our culture, and the church, and transform our ailing European and UK political economy.

Mark Barrett and Ginger Haag @OccupyLSX
- Homepage: http://www.redpepper.org.uk/occupy-and-the-church/

Download this article in pdf format >>

Email this article to someone >>

Submit an addition or make a quick comment on this article >>

Comments

Display the following 9 comments

  1. reclaim spirituality from religion! — shirley bassey
  2. war in the holy land — gary barlow
  3. Christianity is real take it from an ex atheist gang leader. — Ex atheist gang leader
  4. spirituality despite religion — bemused
  5. MSM/VI — Time traveller.
  6. Same ole same ole. — Lurkio.
  7. re time traveller — shirley bassey
  8. The last appendage. — Time Traveller.
  9. uncertainty — shirley bassey

Publish

Publish your news

Do you need help with publishing?

Kollektives

Birmingham
Cambridge
Liverpool
London
Oxford
Sheffield
South Coast
Wales
World

Other UK IMCs
Bristol/South West
London
Northern Indymedia
Scotland

Sheffield Topics

Afghanistan
Analysis
Animal Liberation
Anti-Nuclear
Anti-militarism
Anti-racism
Bio-technology
Climate Chaos
Culture
Ecology
Education
Energy Crisis
Fracking
Free Spaces
Gender
Globalisation
Health
History
Indymedia
Iraq
Migration
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Palestine
Policing
Public sector cuts
Repression
Social Struggles
Technology
Terror War
Workers' Movements
Zapatista

Sheffield [navigation.actions2016]

Sheffield [navigation.actions2015]

Sheffield [navigation.actions2014]

NATO 2014

Sheffield Actions 2013

G8 2013

Sheffield Actions 2012

Workfare

Sheffield Actions 2011

2011 Census Resistance
August Riots
Dale Farm
J30 Strike
Occupy Everywhere

Sheffield Actions 2010

Flotilla to Gaza
Mayday 2010
Tar Sands

Sheffield Actions 2009

COP15 Climate Summit 2009
G20 London Summit
Guantánamo
Indymedia Server Seizure
University Occupations for Gaza

Sheffield Actions 2008

2008 Days Of Action For Autonomous Spaces
Campaign against Carmel-Agrexco
Climate Camp 2008
G8 Japan 2008
SHAC
Smash EDO
Stop Sequani Animal Testing
Stop the BNP's Red White and Blue festival

Sheffield Actions 2007

Climate Camp 2007
DSEi 2007
G8 Germany 2007
Mayday 2007
No Border Camp 2007

Sheffield Actions 2006

April 2006 No Borders Days of Action
Art and Activism Caravan 2006
Climate Camp 2006
Faslane
French CPE uprising 2006
G8 Russia 2006
Lebanon War 2006
March 18 Anti War Protest
Mayday 2006
Oaxaca Uprising
Refugee Week 2006
Rossport Solidarity
SOCPA
Transnational Day of Action Against Migration Controls
WSF 2006

Sheffield Actions 2005

DSEi 2005
G8 2005
WTO Hong Kong 2005

Sheffield Actions 2004

European Social Forum
FBI Server Seizure
May Day 2004
Venezuela

Sheffield Actions 2003

Bush 2003
DSEi 2003
Evian G8
May Day 2003
No War F15
Saloniki Prisoner Support
Thessaloniki EU
WSIS 2003

Server Appeal Radio Page Video Page Indymedia Cinema Offline Newsheet

insecure Unencrypted Page

We suggest you use an encrypted connection encrypted connection for browsing this site.

Please install the CAcert root certificate to verify the authenticity of the site, for more information see the security page.

IMCs


www.indymedia.org

Projects
print
radio
satellite tv
video

Africa

Europe
antwerpen
armenia
athens
austria
barcelona
belarus
belgium
belgrade
brussels
bulgaria
calabria
croatia
cyprus
emilia-romagna
estrecho / madiaq
galiza
germany
grenoble
hungary
ireland
istanbul
italy
la plana
liege
liguria
lille
linksunten
lombardia
madrid
malta
marseille
nantes
napoli
netherlands
northern england
nottingham imc
paris/île-de-france
patras
piemonte
poland
portugal
roma
romania
russia
sardegna
scotland
sverige
switzerland
torun
toscana
ukraine
united kingdom
valencia

Latin America
argentina
bolivia
chiapas
chile
chile sur
cmi brasil
cmi sucre
colombia
ecuador
mexico
peru
puerto rico
qollasuyu
rosario
santiago
tijuana
uruguay
valparaiso
venezuela

Oceania
aotearoa
brisbane
burma
darwin
jakarta
manila
melbourne
perth
qc
sydney

South Asia
india


United States
arizona
arkansas
asheville
atlanta
Austin
binghamton
boston
buffalo
chicago
cleveland
colorado
columbus
dc
hawaii
houston
hudson mohawk
kansas city
la
madison
maine
miami
michigan
milwaukee
minneapolis/st. paul
new hampshire
new jersey
new mexico
new orleans
north carolina
north texas
nyc
oklahoma
philadelphia
pittsburgh
portland
richmond
rochester
rogue valley
saint louis
san diego
san francisco
san francisco bay area
santa barbara
santa cruz, ca
sarasota
seattle
tampa bay
united states
urbana-champaign
vermont
western mass
worcester

West Asia
Armenia
Beirut
Israel
Palestine

Topics
biotech

Process
fbi/legal updates
mailing lists
process & imc docs
tech