The Parliament Blog

What place do people of faith have at Occupy Everywhere?

by Jonathan Oskins
from State of Formation

News agencies were already slow to cover the movement in New York, so it is no surprise that reporting on the involvement of religious people at Occupy Together took even longer. But the wait was worth it, with fellow State of Formation contributors having written on their personal participation: Mary Ann Kaiser wrote a great piece on her hands-on work as part of Occupy Austin and Anna DeWeese posted on her experience at Occupy Wall Street. Faith & Reason also has terrific summaries of the reasons why different faiths have become involved, including a great link to a HuffPost Religion post on an Occupy Wall Street Yom Kippur. Another HuffPost Religion post does a good job of highlighting the variety of religious groups at Occupy Wall Street, including Jumah at #OccupyDCOccupy TorahOccupy Judaism and Occupy Sukkot.

At Occupy LA, the city I am from, there has been group meditation and yoga sessions, but the most prominent story in the last few weeks on spirituality was an event organized by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP). On October 7th, the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, fifteen peace activists were arrested in front of the Federal Building in downtown LA, including Anthony Manousos, a Quaker who serves on the board of directors for ICUJP and the Executive Committee of the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World Religions, Reverend George Regas, rector emeritus of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Shakeel Syed, the executive director of the Islam Shura Council of Southern California, Father Chris Ponnett of Pax Christi, a Catholic organization, and Friar Tom, a Catholic priest, among others.

What struck me was that while Occupy LA supporters joined them as they marched towards the Federal Building, it does not seem to have been coordinated that way. ICUJP sent out tried-and-true press releases including promises of “Visuals: some 20 activists and religious leaders wearing vestments being arrested,” but the press release made no mention of Occupy LA, though some articles made the connection.

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