The message of the Occupy protests has finally struck a chord in faith-based communities across the nation. Countless individuals and media outlets have served to give witness to the growing frustration surrounding income inequality and the lack of jobs in the country. What’s been missing however are the voices of support and strength from those in the spiritual communities–but not anymore.
A Crisis of Conscience
The Washington Post recently reported that members of the faith community in New York have been so moved by it that they’re preparing to help those occupying the NYC area as the near-unbearable temperatures hit the East Coast. The overwhelming support came after Mayor Bloomberg ordered the eviction of protesters in Zuccotti Park earlier this month. Seeing the eviction–by police in full riot gear–of peaceful demonstrators across national airwaves struck a chord in the hearts of those within the spiritual community and led to the groundswell of support seen today.
Hesitation Gives Way to Action
If anything, I feel many church and faith-based leaders may have been concerned with supporting the groups openly for fear that the fringe elements within the protests would detract from the mission and distort the overall message of the Occupy movement. Yet, to the extent that most faith-based institutions work to promote fairness, equality and social justice–many principles that faith-based communities advocate–these groups must ban together and push forward in their support of the movement.
What’s most important about faith-based supporters coming into the movement is the symbolic and real power that faith leaders have in shaping monumental changes throughout society. Having the moral leadership and spiritual support of the faith-based community is an integral component of the Occupy movement’s success. I’m glad to see these men and women standing alongside this peaceful demonstration for economic justice.
Historically, faith-based institutions have been part of the coalition for change for the better in American society. If the challenges and struggles of the Occupy movement are to have any lasting change, faith-based leaders, as well as passionate citizens, must work together to ensure the sustainability and collaborative spirit of the now famous 99%.