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October 7, 2011

Sojourners Among Those Occupying Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street began with just a few dozen protesters. Over the past two weeks, the number of protesters has increased, with participants living day and night near Wall Street. On Sunday, 700 protesters were arrested when they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge; another two dozen were arrested Sunday for disorderly conduct. This week, Sojourners joined anti-corporation movement and is looking for God in the midst of the protest.

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Occupy Wall Street may be a momentary political side-show, but it has the potential of becoming the Left’s answer to the tea party. Both are protest movements aimed at changing who holds power in American politics. The tea party took aim at government overreach; Occupy Wall Street points to the power of corporations. The protestors say they are allies of people "wronged by the corporate forces of the world." They are seeking to reduce the power of corporations which, they say, "place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, [and] run our governments."

Tim King, Sojourners communications director, joined the protests. He is sleeping in the park and blogging about his experiences. He said one of his goals is to look for God’s presence amidst the event.

"I believe it’s often easier to find God on the streets than in a sanctuary," King said. "We serve a God who shows up for those in need, and for those who stand with them."

He reported that there are Christians at the event and that many of the protesters are open to religion.

King said, "Many protesters here have had some bad experiences with religion, but it’s clear that they are genuinely open to seeing religion done differently."

Also, like the early tea party protests, Occupy Wall Street is heavy on pointing out the problem (i.e., corporations) rather than articulating a set of policy proposals or goals.

BreakPoint’s John Stonestreet said that the message of the protests is that "things are broken—Wall Street, the environment, society, the list of complaints goes on and on. Their solution? Well, none have been offered." He compared this to BreakPoint’s recent Do the Right Thing movement, which "identifies that the central problem is an ethical collapse."

Columbia University sociology professor Courtney Bender said that media reports have missed the religious dimension of the protests because they are looking for either cooperation from churches and organized religion or focusing on alternative religions.

"This pair of reportorial strategies provides familiar but unhelpful ways to consider the religious dimensions of the occupation. In fact it makes it possible to overlook the varieties of spiritual symbols, performance, actions and discourse—not to mention religious and spiritual networks and communication webs—that energize events in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere," Bender said.

Sojourners president Jim Wallis said the purpose of Occupy Wall Street is still developing, but he is interested in what he has seen so far.

"People’s frustrations, hurts, and feelings of being betrayed by our nation’s politicians and economic leaders are clear. They want to be heard," Wallis said. "There is a lot of speculation as to who the ‘Occupiers’ are and what they might accomplish. There is much I still don’t know about the movement, but undeniably it has caught the imagination of a generation—and that matters."

Wallis encouraged people to help the protesters in New York and in other cities by ordering a pizza or bringing a meal.

He is planning on visiting the New York protests today. "They are carrying on the most interesting conversation going on in that city—or any other—right now. Besides, I love a good potluck or pizza party where people imagine a better world," Wallis said.

Comments

Wallis and his followers are right in line to overthrow what elemens they are not "happy with." Biblical doctrine left aside and the purpose of our witness for Christ long lost from their motivation.
Bob Newman veteran missionary for 50 years.

I recently heard a mother being interviewed. She said that her daughter called from college and said she was boarding a bus for the Wall Street protests (the bus was picking up students on campus). The daughter said some of her friends were going and it sounded like fun and that the protests were intended to hold the rich (people, corporations, etc.) accountable. Other than that the daughter had little clue what this was all about. There appears to be no coherent, rational philosophy among the protestors for holding the aforementioned accountable. There's a strong anti-capitalist sentiment, and a lot of emotion sans logic. It seems that the biggest common denominator among these protestors is the fact that they don't have jobs and thus have the time to be there. I am anxious to find out who is behind the protests.

This brings to mind the horrid days of the late 60s/early 70s and the anti-Vietnam War protests. The objective was simply to overthrow the establishment. And get out of classes, have some fun, etc. No real philosophical engagement, and there's none here, either. As for Wallis, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, out to seduce the evangelical church into following the mainline churches into abandoning the preaching of the genuine gospel for a social gospel. On the other hand, the idea of sitting down with protestors over pizza isn't a bad one, as long as the ultimate objective is to bring them a Christian witness at some point.

Kudos to Jim Wallis for going where the people go and listening to what the people say. Is this not what Christ did? Systems are not changed through politics, argument, or judgment. Rather, systems are changed are person at a time through genuine human relationships. Let's stop emphasizing political agendas and use common sense collaboration, from various points of view, to define and solve obvious issues. Followers of Christ and right wing politics are not one and the same.

I'm glad Sojourners is there. Maybe now this mass of discontents will get some organization and get their acts together. So far, all I've heard is mush and vague whining. I'd like to see this shape up into a razor-sharp protest with REAL goals.

There are no parallels between this and the tea party. The tea party has always been corporately funded, with big money from Koch Brother funded organizations like Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, and Citizens for a Sound Economy. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a true grassroots movement, with clear goals, even if the media want to pretend otherwise. Among those goals--hold the banks and financial community responsible for the crimes they committed which cause the collapse of the economy; overturn Citizens United; implement campaign finance reform. This movement reflects the needs of the poor, the voiceless, the marginalized...the people Jesus tended to hang out with.

Hope the experience at OWS reminds Wallis and other SoJo-ers that "justice for all" includes LBGTQ people as well. One's social justice cred is significantly reduced when ethical hypocrisy is revealed...

To clearly define what it is the Wall Street "Occupiers" want, you will see it spelled out in this story published on AllVoices at this link: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/10542414-only-government-approved-thoughts-and-speech-allowed-or-else-guest-jerry-newcombe-comes-forth .
The story can also be seen by going to:
www.revaustinmiles.com
Notice their mantra, "People Before Profits" on their picket signs. This is a Communist rallying cry, an absolute Marxist statement. Check the article links above to fully understand who these protesters are and what it is they are dedicated to accomplishing.
Rev. Austin Miles

To Lisa Hadler:

Organizations like Media Matters and the SEIU are behind this, so don't kid yourself that it's "a true grassroots movement."

Their stated goals are free college education, forgiveness of all of their debts, a living wage, open borders and outlawing credit reports.

Lisa, speaking of no parallels between OWS and the Tea Party, OWS has existed for a few days and already has over 700 arrested, and clashed with police.

John G., Mark M., Paul S:

Amen.

To Truthmeister: We are all behind these protests; everyone who is sick of the politics of this nation. You should also buy a pizza for these people, since you're probably busy at work and supporting a family. These protestors are doing the work we can't or won't. Reminds me of the early seventies too.

These kind of protests have been taking place in many parts of the world quite recently, which seem coordinated by certain people & groups. The purposefulness of these protests is surely in question, weather it benefits the ordinary man or the back seat group/organizers. It does appear that the fruits will be gathered by the latter, with the average Joe, left in wanting as usual.

Those of you expressing skepticism should read this article. Once you understand what is occurring, you might see God's hand at work. I did.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/10/matt-stoller-the-anti-politics-of-occupywallstreet.html

The success of these protests depends on how organized the OWS movement is and how clear their purposes are. If they aren't clear than the shelf life of the movement wont last very long.

I sympathize with some of these protestors, but they need to educate themselves. There's been plenty of corporate greed to go around, but what really started and undergirded the financial crisis was the government putting its nose where it had no business: guaranteeing mortgages (Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac). These protestors should take economics from a nonpartisan professor and read the book "Reckless Endangerment." If they were more knowledgeable they would be holding their protests mainly at the Washington offices of liberal politicians. I am reminded of a quote: "It's not that liberals don't know anything, they just know so much that isn't true." And another: "If you are not liberal when you're 20 you have no heart. If you are not conservative by age 40 you have no brain."

To the smug, comfortable, well-off who think the Occupy Wall Street protesters should "Get a job" - maybe you should Get a Protest. These people are sacrificing their time, resources, and persons to try and bring about change to our country. What have you done for America lately? Oh, that's right: you fought tooth and nail to prevent gays from getting married. You are cowards, and shame on you.

Did Sojourners attend any of the TEA Parties of the last few years? Did Mr. King blog from any of those events? What was their perspective on those grassroots movements?

It's hilarious to see these protestors supposedly angry at corporations - all while using the various products of those 'evil' corporations (cellphones, cameras, tents, sleeping bags, etc.).

I'm embarrassed for these people...

According to Vice-President Joe Biden, the protestors are demanding such niceties as free college, pay independent of work, a $20 minimum wage and a nation with open borders...and he believes this group has legitimacy and “a lot in common with the tea party movement.”

Good grief...narcissism run amok.

The Occupy Wall street is an interesting movement. It's small beginings where dismissed by most. Now it's growing and we don't know where it will lead to.

"Did Sojourners attend any of the TEA Parties of the last few years? Did Mr. King blog from any of those events? What was their perspective on those grassroots movements?
It's hilarious to see these protestors supposedly angry at corporations - all while using the various products of those 'evil' corporations (cellphones, cameras, tents, sleeping bags, etc.).
I'm embarrassed for these people..."

In fact, Sojourners did blog on the Tea Party. But rather than attempt to "find God" in the movement they demonized them for their "anger." (no anger with OWS I guess) Sojourners finds God where they want to find God and doesn't bother looking anywhere but toward the radical left.

It is nice to see some
Christians taking note of what is going on in the only world we can experience instead of wasting their time in adoration of imaginary beings in the "sky."

We need to go back to a deep, complete study of an issue. Reading an article or a few posts does not give us an education. Read a few books. Right now I am reading a really great book called "Generous Justice" by Timothy Keller. It challenges the ploitical left and the right to open their eyes and see things from a different perspective. Don't just look at one or two verses out of context, get the "whole counsel of God"

I loathe everything about Wallis as he is just another anti christ in these dangerous times...take note people...he just accepted money from the radical George Soros who is a radical leftist atheist...may sojouners go bankrupt and may Jim Wallis repent and come to Christ one day!

Dear Edgar, it is because some of us 'adore the Being in the Sky' that we want justice for helpless people .'To each according to his need, from each according to his ability'.We are all One Human Family.

Freely downloadable, Tolstoys' Law of Love and Law of Violence makes an excellent case that a ten step program of political change or coherent agenda (As people keep calling for) is not the Christian approach. I highlight his points in
http://humblewonderful.blogspot.com/2011/10/tolstoy-feeds-me-humble-pie.html
Knowing how things must end before we act for change is not necessary with faith. It is only necessary to note that we cannot truly love our neighbours under the current arrangements and to subsequently live as that love dictates.