As the “Occupy Wall Street” protests have continued in the last couple of weeks, more religious people from many different religions have begun to join and make their presence felt. This is important, as religious people have made important contributions to past movements for social change, such as the civil rights movement, the woman’s suffrage movement, the abolition movement, and the labor movement. The three Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, have especially have a historic concern for the plight of the poor and the marginalized that fits well with the concerns of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters. Religious figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Rabbi Joshua Heschel, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, James Farmer, William Sloane Coffin, Pauli Murray, and others have all fought for similar economic justice issues that the “Occupy Wall Street” protests are fighting for today.
Jay Lindsay wrote a piece for the Associated Press about the involvement of different religious people in the Occupy Wall Street protests. Lindsay wrote:
Religion might not fit into the movement seamlessly, but activist Dan Sieradski, who’s helped organize Jewish services and events at Occupy Wall Street, said it must fit somewhere.
“We’re a country full of religious people,” he said. “Faith communities do need to be present and need to be welcomed in order for this to be an all-encompassing movement that embraces all sectors of society.”
Religious imagery and events have been common since the protests began. In New York, clergy carried an Old Testament-style golden calf in the shape of the Wall Street bull to decry the false idol of greed. Sieradski organized a Yom Kippur service. About 70 Muslims kneeled to pray toward Mecca at a prayer service Friday.
A Chicago group, Interfaith Worker Justice, has published an interfaith prayer service guide for occupation protests nationwide.
Clergy who support the protests say they are a natural fit with many faiths, because they share traditional concerns about economic injustice. They also point to history, including the civil rights movement and abolition.
“Every movement for social change that has really made a difference has included the power of God, the power of the spirit and the power of people of conscience,” said the Rev. Stephanie Sellers, one of the Episcopalian “protest chaplains” praying with protesters at different sites.
Occupy Wall Street and its regional cohorts, Suskin said, are an “American movement for justice, and as far as I can see the people around us recognize that Jews are Americans just as they are, and there isn’t, as far as I can tell, any evidence that the 1% term is any kind of coded message about Jews.”
In fact, organizers said, the protests afford American Jews an opportunity to rethink their relationship to their own religion. One of the organizers of Occupy Judaism, Daniel Sieradski, was involved in putting together the New York Kol Nidre service by the protest site which attracted between 700 and 1,000 participants last week. Siedradski called such services “civil disobedient davening (praying).”
“It started with one Tweet and got 1,000 people,” Sieradski said, adding that New York’s Kol Nidre Occupy service was traditional egalitarian, and included secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews alike.
Sieradski called the Occupy movements “one of the most exciting things to happen in American Judaism.”
“We’re giving people an outlet through which to express their Jewish values that no other Jewish institution has been able to provide them with,” Sieradski said, adding that he hopes that the long-term momentum of the movement will lead Jews to “occupy our own Jewish institutions, rendering them responsive and accountable to the needs of the community.”
“Most Jewish institutions are dominated by their wealthiest donors, whose views might not be in line with that of the wider Jewish community,” Sieradski said. “It’s our community and our tradition as much as it is anybody’s, and they need to make space for us.”
Ideally, Sieradski said, the Occupy Judaism movement will have the effect of “making our tradition a living, breathing justice movement.”
Joining the ranks of fellow Americans in protesting economic inequality, US Muslim groups have thrown their weight behind the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest movement against social injustice in the United States.
“We as Muslim New Yorkers are here today because we are in solidarity and support of Occupy Wall Street,” said Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab-American Association.
A number of Muslims associated with the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the local Islamic Leadership Council have gathered earlier this week to support the protest movement against social justice and economic inequality in the US.
Here are some videos of religious people and groups involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country.
A VIDEO OF AN INTERFAITH GATHERING AT THE OCCUPY WALL STREET LOCATION
A VIDEO OF A CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT JOINING OCCUPY ATLANTA
A VIDEO OF PASTOR WILLIE AND THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AT THE OCCUPY THE HOOD AND OCCUPY TROY GATHERINGS.
A VIDEO OF A JEWISH GROUP GATHERING IN A SUKKAH IN OCCUPY LOS ANGELES
A VIDEO OF A JEWISH GROUP AT A SUKKAH IN ZUCCOTTI PARK FOR OCCUPY WALL STREET
A VIDEO OF MUSLIM GROUPS AT OCCUPY WALL STREET
A VIDEO OF MUSLIMS HOLDING A PRAYER DAY AT OCCUPY WALL STREET
A VIDEO OF BISHOP ANDREW GENTRY OF OCCUPY ASHEVILLE
A VIDEO OF CAMPUS CHAPLAIN ROGER WOLSEY AT OCCUPY DENVER
TWO VIDEOS OF THE PROTEST CHAPLAINS AT OCCUPY WALL STREET AND OCCUPY BOSTON
A VIDEO OF A COMMUNION SERVICE AT OCCUPY BOSTON