Religious Groups Join in Wall Street Protests

Monday, October 10, 2011

(WNYC/Arun Venugopal)

Following the lead of labor unions, some religious organizations joined the Wall Street protests this weekend.

There were two religious gatherings at the protesters' headquarters in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan on Sunday featuring Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy. On Friday, there was a Kol Nidrei Service marking Yom Kippur.

Reverend Michael Ellick, of Judson Memorial Church, led a rally of several hundred people on Sunday.

"It's the foundation of our scriptural principles, to look after our neighbors," Ellick said. 

The protests, he said, were motivating clergy across the country.

"Every city where you know there's an Occupy ... we're getting calls from faith leaders in every one of those cities, who want to be a part of it. Who want to know what's happening," said Ellick. "And that's who's driving this movement right now."

Earlier, Rev. Elizabeth Butler, pastor at the Church of New Beginnings in Brownsville, Brooklyn, led a prayer service. She said the church had historically been a part of social transformation, and that it was important for religious groups join the protests, in part because they would add diversity. In her own community, she said everyone was talking about Occupy Wall Street.

"It's talked about in restaurants. I was at a wedding and it was being talked about," Butler said. "People want to know, 'Are you in support? Have you been there? What do you think about it?' So it is something that is not going to go away."


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Comments [16]

safiya bandele from Brooklyn

Rev. Elizabeth Butler's message was inspiring:
the eagle soars - we are the collective eagle!

Oct. 13 2011 06:37 PM
efrem butler

We have to keep the pressure on wall street and the politicans who defend the rich! How is it that wages has stayed the same (or even lowered) while millionares and billionares are getting tax breaks! We have to preserve our pensions, our social security and even our 401k's

Oct. 10 2011 10:42 PM
Michael Mac from Huntington, WV

This is not surprising. We have a good deal of evidence from the 20th century that religious groups supported social movements, even if they did not have a personal stake in the outcome, because it was the right thing to do:

Oct. 10 2011 12:25 PM
Natalie from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Since so much conflict today revolves around religious groups, I hope that Occupy Wall Street will not dissolve in that direction. As a secular Christian, I know that Jesus himself has never been accurately defined and the Bible reflects opinions of those who came after him. I hope he was the Prince of Peace and does represent those who gave away their worldly goods to follow him. I advise all who quote him to first read Mathew 8:1-8 and undertake prayers only in private places.

Oct. 10 2011 11:54 AM
Sick of It All from NYC

Why don't churches pay their share of taxes, too?! They're as bad as the big banks!

Please keep your god-bull, your jesus character and your idiotic religions out of my government.

Oct. 10 2011 11:51 AM

The 'worship God v.s Mammon"; golden
calf slant is misdirected. A key point of the protest is the outrageous concentration of wealth to the 1% ... . Money IS important - to buy food, clothes, time w. family v.s the necessity to work multiple jobs in order to put food on the table ..
we're not against money [Mammon], we're against the LACK of it for the poorest [and the unemployed]

Oct. 10 2011 11:41 AM

I designed children's programming for a Yom Kippur day service happening not too far north from Occupy Wall Street. With our teen group, we looked at the double sacrifices performed at the temple in the old days. One was the scapegoat ritual--one goat for God and one for Azazel to atone for the community's sins. But there were also three bulls sacrificed which we attempted to translate into a modern context. One was to atone for the High Priest's sin and his family (our highest leaders), a second bull for the Priestly order (our community leaders), and a third for the entire people. In addition to looking inward, Yom Kippur is a time for holding others accountable, including those who are in positions of responsibility. I only tied it in as a mention that the bull is a symbol of Wall Street, but I was interested to hear some of the teens who live near the protest complain about how much noise it makes.

Oct. 10 2011 11:30 AM
Sandy from Park Slope

Kol Nidre at Occupy Wall Street was truly amazing. 1000 Jews gathering in Brown Brothers Harriman plaza... totally goes with Jewish history of being involved in Social Justice movements

Oct. 10 2011 11:14 AM

It's good news to read in this article that "Following the lead of labor unions, some religious organizations joined the Wall Street protests this weekend." The more groups the merrier as long as the demonstration remains peaceful and every group stays focused on the message that the Occupy Wall Street protestors
are delivering and they don't bring other agendas. There's another group that needs to come down to Zuccotti Park to help out and show their solidarity = NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the full delegation of NYC Council Members - all 50.

Oct. 10 2011 11:01 AM
Brad Gorman from San Francisco

so the "organized" churches are trying to muscle into economic reform! So Buffet is a godly economic steward. Learned quite a lot today. The fact is that the canon law of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all severely limited interest and profit, and only Islam feebly flirts with it today, although increasingly adopting the dodges of Talmudic Judaism. 7 billion "humans" is an indictment of the manipulations and subterfuges of religion, lucre, and technology. Back to the Garden, and the deal with the Snake. SHAKERISM RULES!

Oct. 10 2011 10:38 AM
Gianni Lovato from Chatham

If and when the OWS folks give up the gratuitous robing & disrobing, as well as the hedonistic practices of "free" sex and pot, they just might get a chance of not winding up as ineffective as the flower children of 1968.
Otherwise it will be déjà vu all over again.
And I'll have wasted my driving 300 miles to deliver supplies to Zuccotti Park.
Pity, but not for me. (I'm too old to get hurt)

Oct. 10 2011 10:29 AM
Suzie from Brooklyn

It seems contradictory to ponder which financial interests will back the Occupy Wall Street movement. One of their goals is to get corporate money out of elections and restore democracy.

It also seems a major distortion to continually compare this movement to the Tea Party, as if they are mirror images of the same thing. I can't help but see this as a tactic to undercut the OWS movement.

Oct. 10 2011 10:29 AM
Alison Jasonides from Crown Heights, BKLYN

This movement doesn't seem to be ONLY about jobs, and bail-outs and possibly finding practical solutions to our economic recession. It is also a philosophical and moral response to how we function as a society and how much greed and class inequality define this moment. People, like Herman Cain or Eric Cantor, show this divide by disparaging comments towards "the mob" like "Get a job" or "I worked hard for my wealth, you can't take it away from me." Though the idea of religion co-opting this movement concerns me, there is a very Christian vein running through their message: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:25)"

Oct. 10 2011 10:25 AM
Suzie from Brooklyn

First all, calling Nancy Pelosi "progressive" is a bit of a stretch. Millions of Americans were clamoring for the impeachment of Bush/Cheney when she famously declared that option "off the table," stripping our voices.

Second of all, the Democrats and Republicans are having a hard time responding because they are both backed by the moneyed class, by the 1%. It's amazing how the mainstream media cannot recognize the new alignment of power being formed here, the 99% against the 1%, not Democrats against Republicans.

The religious issue is a sideshow.

Oct. 10 2011 10:18 AM

The Rabbi at the Riverdale Shul started her sermon on Friday night with, "Something is happening here. What it is isn't exactly clear. There's a man with a gun over there, telling us we have to beware.

Her entire focus was about the disparity; the importance of patience and tolerance, and to pay attention as the growing voice of the protest is real.

What interesting times we are living. I think the protest movement will evolve, after hearing the remarks that Oberman gave on their behalf and the next step is political, and everything they want has to do with Democratic principles.

There is also the mobilization factor behind every thinking person being frightened that the uneducated and unthinking are taking over our country.

Oct. 10 2011 10:17 AM
barrie Peterson from Valley Cottage, NY

Outside of the Russian Orthodox Church blessing the Czarist tyrannies and the Church of England and Vatican in the past, I can think of no religious support of the wealthy over the rest of society.
Jesus, especially, and the Old Testament Prophets were specifically on the side of the poor and sharply questioned wealth and unjust power.
So if you are one of the 1% who understands you relied on many other people, policies, institutions, and luck to amass your wealth and you are being a good steward of it like Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet, bless you and know you have some Biblical justification.
If you are part of the 1% who arrogantly think you did it on your own and any tactic is OK in our crony capitalist society and you aren't sharing and hide income in the Bahamas or a Swiss Bank to avoid taxation, you are violating every precept of our manor religions. Warren Buffett shared with one of my students he tells billionares refusing to sign onto the Giving Pledge, "You need a psychiatrist".

Oct. 10 2011 07:42 AM

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