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Archive for the ‘occupy wall street’ tag

Churches Moving Money Out Of Big Banks In Protest Of Foreclosure Actions

by Jillian Berman
from the Huffington Post

For lent this year, some will inevitably give up the usual guilty pleasures like chocolate or meat. More than a few churches are taking a decidedly different approach.

About 25 churches have withdrawn $16 million from big banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase as part of a Lent-themed protest against the banks’ foreclosure actions, The New York Times reports, citing PICO National Network, a social justice coalition of churches that’s leading the charge. Individual members and organizational partners have also taken out an additional $15 million.

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Religion Stories Of 2011: The Top 11

by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
from Huffington Post

In the final days of 2011 we pause to reflect on the year that has past — the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are the HuffPost Religion Top Stories of 2011.

The Muslim Spring
It started with a simple vegetable seller in Tunisia who, humiliated by the police and autocracy, set himself on fire at the end of 2010. One year later, the seemingly eternal regimes of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have fallen to popular uprisings and several others, including Syria, appear to be teetering. Once called the Arab Spring, Islam is increasingly being recognized as the fuel that fed the fire of these revolutions — a fire that that may both warm and burn in 2012.

The Dalai Lama Steps Down
The Dalai Lama made history when he relieved himself from his responsibility as political head of the Tibetan people to concentrate solely on his role as spiritual leader; ending one of the most enduring, if benevolent, theocracies in the world. Lobsang Sangay, the Harvard-trained legal scholar, is the the new Tibetan Prime Minister in a time when frustrations with Chinese policy is leading to a fiery form of radical protests by nuns and monks.

Mormons in Politics
The potential success of the Romney presidential campaign has fed a frenzy of discussion of what it means that a Mormon is in politics. The fact that Romney is not the only Mormon candidate (Huntsman) and that the Senate Majority Leader (Reid) is also Mormon doesn’t seem to stop the endless punditry and speculation. Will religious suspicion on the part of evangelicals in the primary and secularists in the general election doom this Mormon moment?

The Muslims Are Coming, The Muslims Are Coming
Fear of the “Muslim menace,” fueled by cynical politicians and well funded think tanks, has led to anti-sharia laws proposed and passed in states around the country. The fact that these states hadno pending pro-sharia laws is apparently beside the point. Creating bulwarks instead of bridges, the anti-sharia (read Muslim) movements seem to ebb and flow according to the political tides (think Park 51 in 2010). Get ready for a flood in 2012.

The End of the World
In order to give people time to repent, people with May 21 Judgment Day signs started popping up well before the announced date of the end of the world. The “prophet” of this apocalypse was Harold Camping, an elderly man with a drawling voice heard most prominently on his Family Radio empire. People left jobs, families prepared to be raptured and as the clock ticked down, the entire world held its collective unbelieving breath. And then time went on, and oddly a little disappointed, so did we.

Presbyterians Acknowledge Gays and Lesbians Can Be Ministers
Ho hum, gays can be ministers, too. Yet, for the Presbyterian Church, one of America’s most famously and proudly plodding religious traditions, to change its laws to allow openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy was a major step forward for LGBT rights and for the Church as a whole.

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I Was Wrong About Occupy

The movement does need public space

by Donna Schaper
from Religion Dispatches

Last week I argued in these pages that the Occupy movement might be diverted by its focus on getting physical outdoor space. I felt that the movement had gone viral—we were everywhere, and didn’t need a particular space any more. I was wrong.

We do need physical outdoor space. Trinity Church in Manhattan, sometimes meanly—and unfairly—referred to as a real estate corporation with an altar, could even give it. They own an empty downtown space at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street that is gated (providing security for occupiers) and accessible to public transportation so that allies, visitors, and media could join them. I really thought this demand was a sideshow until Thursday. Then I changed my mind.

That morning a dozen occupiers addressed forty or so clergy. We clergy were all somewhat skeptical of the demand for public space. You could hear the ministerial, rabbinical hrumph,hrumph in the room. (Most of us had never occupied Zucotti Park and a downward trend in temperature wasn’t going to improve on that.) But the occupiers edged toward the theological as they articulated a need for communal, inspirational, face-to-face contact in which they could “appear” to one another.

Secondly, they talked about the nearly complete privatization of municipal public space in a way that made a deep and tragic sense. Where can you go if you don’t own something? Does a public even exist if it has no space? The great irony is that they have been called the virtual demonstration, and here they were talking about old-fashioned, in-person, human interaction.

Third, they talked about the increasing surveillance of most space, private or public—the self-surveillance on Facebook, the constant camera, and the ask-no-questions “security” cordons. They reminded me of one of my first posts on this whole matter: we no longer march and the police pen us for “our own good.” What nonsense. A completely nonviolent movement does not need to be penned up for its own good.

And finally, they spoke of a new monasticism, in which people have given up everything to jump to a future they can only imagine. In the most recent newsletter posted by Occupy Theory [as of this posting, the site is down Eds.], occupiers describe how sad they were about their lives, both present and future, until they found each other. If you were worried about “young people today” before, you will be terrified after you read about the emptiness, the bought-and-soldness, the futility, the lack of any place to be or person to be.

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Faith Occupies Wall Street

from Huffington Post

People and groups of faith inspired by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City are organizing events in NYC’s “Liberty Plaza” and around the country. We’ve compiled a list of some of these upcoming protests. We would love to add other cities! Please leave all faith-related happenings in the comments, or tweet us @HuffPostRelig so we can add to the list.

In many of the Occupy cities, there are “protest chaplains.” In New York they identify themselves with blue ribbons. In Boston they have white cloaks or are in the Inter/No/Faith tent. Check out theOccupy Boston Faith and Spirituality page.

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November 21st, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Sisters of St. Francis, the Quiet Shareholder Activists

By Kevin Roose
From The New York Times

Not long ago, an unusual visitor arrived at the sleek headquarters of Goldman Sachs in Lower Manhattan.

It wasn’t some C.E.O., or a pol from Athens or Washington, or even a sign-waving occupier from Zuccotti Park.

It was Sister Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. And the slight, soft-spoken nun had a few not-so-humble suggestions for the world’s most powerful investment bank.

Way up on the 41st floor, in a conference room overlooking the World Trade Center site, Sister Nora and her team from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility laid out their advice for three Goldman executives. The Wall Street bank, they said, should protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase its transparency and remember the poor.

In short, Goldman should do God’s work— something that its chairman and chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, once remarked that he did. (The joke bombed.)

Long before Occupy Wall Street, the Sisters of St. Francis were quietly staging an occupation of their own. In recent years, this Roman Catholic order of 540 or so nuns has become one of the most surprising groups of corporate activists around.

The nuns have gone toe-to-toe with Kroger, the grocery store chain, over farm worker rights; with McDonald’s, over childhood obesity; and with Wells Fargo, over lending practices. They have tried, with mixed success, to exert some moral suasion over Fortune 500 executives, a group not always known for its piety.

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St Paul’s Seeks New Direction and Begins Dialogue with Occupy Movement

by Alan Rusbridger
from the Guardian

The Rt Rev Richard John Carew Chartres exuded an aura of benign ecclesiastical calm having performed the most dramatic reverse ferret in modern church history.

The Bishop of London was cloistered in his 17th century palace – confusingly called the Old Deanery – after overseeing a meeting of the St Paul’s Cathedral chapter at which his colleagues had unanimously agreed to overturn virtually every single decision they had reached over the past two weeks.

“Reverse ferret” is, technically speaking, a term used in Fleet Street, just down the road, to describe the moment when an editor executes a startling editorial U-turn.

But it was the bishop who brought off a remarkable tactical volte face. Stepping into the shoes of the recently-departed dean of St Paul’s, Graeme Knowles, Chartres decided to suspend legal action against the protesters who are camped out barely a hundred yards from his sitting room – and to disregard the legal and health and safety advice which had previously led to the closure of the cathedral.

“The symbolism of the closed door was the wrong symbol,” said Chartres, who also announced an initiative, led by a former investment banker, with the aim of “reconnecting the financial with the ethical”.

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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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Asking the Right Questions: from the Keystone XL Hearings to an Occupied Wall Street

by Yaira Robinson
from State of Formation

Word on the progressive street was, the Koch brothers and Big Oil were paying for busloads of people to come to the State Department hearings and speak in favor of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The fat-cat-funded union and industry folks would be there early, with signs, stacking the lines, making it difficult for those opposed to the pipeline to speak and be heard. One more example of big corporate money silencing grassroots voices.

That was the story. Whether it’s completely true or not doesn’t really matter; it got the environmental community geared up for a fight. At the hearing scheduled in Austin for Wednesday, September 28th, we wouldn’t be silenced, or bullied. The hearing would start at noon, but we’d be prepared.

The first environmentalists arrived at 7:30 a.m. Already, though, there were about 30 people in line, supporters of the pipeline, wearing matching fluorescent orange and green t-shirts with the word “JOBS” in capital letters. By 9:30 a.m., there were at least a hundred people in line, and many environmental advocates were now wearing matching t-shirts, too—light blue ones that read, “NO tar sands.”

The opposing sides could now be clearly identified by the color of their t-shirts.

I was there representing Texas Interfaith Power and Light, bringing religious voices to the table. That morning, we held a public interfaith service of prayer and purpose, and offered words at a coalition press conference. Later, a number of religious leaders would testify in opposition to the pipeline.

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October 14th, 2011 at 10:06 am

Occupy Interfaith: Why Millennials, Including The Irreligious, Need To Care About Religion

by Chris Stedman
from Huffington Post

When I was in high school, civil disobedience excited me. I participated in a school walkout in protest of the Iraq War, staged a demonstration outside of a conference for anti-gay “reparative therapy,” and regularly got together with friends to make T-shirts boasting our political positions. Though the underlying political motives behind these actions were sincere, I recognize in hindsight that a big part of why I was drawn to such activism was that it hinged on solidarity and cooperation.

I was reminded of these efforts this weekend, when I decided to take my Saturday night off to check out the Occupy America (a national movement born out of Occupy Wall Street in New York City) effort in my city.

I decided to go because I have been tracking it online for some time, and many of my friends and peers have been involved from the beginning. While the participants I encountered on Saturday ranged in ages, Occupy America has frequently been referred to as a “youth-driven” movement, and the statement isn’t without merit. Though participation has been and continues to be intergenerational, there seems to be a particularly strong representation from young people.

As a 24-year-old, I’m part of the Millennial Generation – the generation following Generation Y, born in the 1980s and 1990s. We’re a generation that, according to studies by Pew and others, is supposed to be unconcerned and unengaged with the political process. Yet we defied such classification by coming out in droves for the 2008 Presidential election, and I believe that the Occupy America movement is demonstrating once more that we can surprise prognosticators and muster up unanticipated energy and organization to mobilize for social change.

Still, we remain a generation that is, in some ways, defined by apathy. This is perhaps no more obvious than it is in Millennials’ relationship with religion.

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