Occupy London Evicted from St. Paul’s Cathedral

February 29, 2012, 3:59 pm | Posted by

Since the inception of the Occupy movement, we’ve highlighted the diverse ways that people of faith have contributed to the struggle for economic justice and financial reform—as well as some cases where the religious community ought to be doing more to stand in solidarity with Occupy protesters.

In contrast to Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church’s decision to deny Occupy protesters sanctuary after their eviction from Zucotti Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was a positive example of a religious community working together to support the Occupy movement’s push for a fair and moral economy. Occupy London protesters have been encamped at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the past four months. However, after the City of London Corporation – which owns most of the land around the cathedral – won its suit against Occupy London, the camp was forcibly evicted from St. Paul’s yesterday. As Simon Barrow, the co-director of the Christian think tank Ekklesia, put it:

 “This is a very sad day. The Occupy camp at St Paul’s has been a powerful symbol of the need for concentrations of power to be made accountable, devolved, redistributed and just. Now corporate interests are evicting those who have disturbed their ‘business as usual’…As the eviction takes place, it is to be hoped that the Cathedral recalls its historic Christian duty to be a site of refuge for those fleeing violence and injustice.”

St. Paul’s role in the eviction remains unclear. In a statement released yesterday, cathedral officials noted they “regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs,” but they remain “fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and Institute.” Nonetheless, Occupy London protesters are criticizing the cathedral for failing to take stronger actions to oppose the police action.

As the Occupy movement continues to make critical contributions to the global narrative about social and economic justice, religious communities have a moral obligation to support this prophetic call for a fair economy.

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Prominent National Faith Leaders Celebrate White House’s Common-Ground Solution on Contraception Coverage

February 10, 2012, 2:49 pm | Posted by

Today, national faith leaders and organizations are celebrating the White House’s announcement of a common-sense, common-ground solution to religious liberty concerns around contraception coverage that protects women’s access to important preventive health care. The regulation expands religious exemptions within the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that contraceptive services be covered without copayment in health insurance plans, while guaranteeing that employees of religious institutions can obtain family planning and other preventive health services directly from their insurance providers. Below is a statement from Catholic and Protestant leaders celebrating the decision as “major victory for religious liberty and women’s health.”

Today the Obama administration announced an important regulation that will protect the conscience rights of religious organizations and ensure that all women have access to contraception without a co-payment. We applaud the White House for listening carefully to the concerns raised by religious leaders on an issue that has provoked heated and often misinformed debate. This ruling is a major victory for religious liberty and women’s health. President Obama has demonstrated that these core values do not have to be in conflict.

Specifically, this new regulation guarantees that no religiously affiliated institution will have to pay for services that violate its moral beliefs or even refer employees for this coverage. Instead, if a woman’s employer is an objecting university, hospital or other religious institution, her insurer will be required to offer her coverage at no cost. This is a sensible, common-ground solution.

In recent days, sound bites and divisive rhetoric have too often pitted the faith community against sound science and public health.The previous regulations caused an unnecessary conflict between the administration, the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. We are encouraged that the Obama administration has developed a substantive solution that addresses the concerns of the many constituencies involved. We look forward to bringing the same level of passion displayed in this debate to other pressing moral issues that face our nation.

Sister Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Douglas W. Kmiec
United States Amb. (ret)
Chair, Constitutional and Human Rights Law, Pepperdine University

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology Chair, Theology Department
Fordham University

Nicholas P. Cafardi
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Duquesne University School of Law

Vincent J. Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
University of Dayton

Kristin Heyer
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
Santa Clara University

Gerald J. Beyer
Associate Professor of Theology
Saint Joseph’s University

Stephen Schneck
Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
Catholic University of America

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza
Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, MA

John Inglis
Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Cross-appointed to Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Bradford E. Hinze
Professor of Theology
Fordham University
Bronx, NY

David DeCosse
Director of Campus Ethics Programs
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
Santa Clara UniversitY

Todd Whitmore
Associate Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Sr. Paulette Skiba
Professor of Religious Studies
Clarke University

Michael E. Lee
Associate Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Tobias Winright
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Saint Louis University

Richard R. Gaillardetz
McCarthy Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology
Boston College

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary

The Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin
Immediate Past President
National Council of Churches


Lisa Sharon Harper
Director of Mobilizing

Rev. Anne Howard
Executive Director
The Beatitudes Society

Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo
United Church of Christ
Justice and Witness Ministries

Rev. Richard Cizik
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Dr. David Gushee
Board Chair and Co-Founder
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Rev. Alexander Sharp
Executive Director
Protestants for the Common Good

Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Disciples Justice Action Network (DJAN)

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
Skinner Leadership Institute

Linda Bales Todd
Director of Women’s Advocacy
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only


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Tennessee Clergy Step up the Fight Against Anti-Immigrant Laws

January 27, 2012, 8:00 am | Posted by

In December, we blogged about Clergy for Tolerance, the new group of interfaith leaders in Tennessee  pushing back on anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation in their state.

The clergy coalition has seen major growth lately. According to Kathy Chambers, co-organizer of CFT, at the most recent meeting “almost half the attendees were new to Clergy for Tolerance, which shows this issue is gaining traction within the Middle Tennessee faith communities.”

She also explained that the 180th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee had adopted a resolution vowing to stand with immigrants and advocate for their protection. Most of the authors of the resolution attended the event.

Also at the meeting, members screened a new documentary produced by EthicsDaily.com on faith and immigration called “Gospel Without Borders.” The documentary highlights stories from five states dealing with the issue of immigration and its intersection with faith.

Following the film, a panel including Lutheran bishop Julian Gordy discussed the challenge facing the religious community in Southeastern states:

Tennessee has not passed any restrictive immigration legislation yet, Gordy said, but such has been proposed, and it will be proposed again this year. Alabama and Georgia (states in the ELCA’s Southeastern Synod) have passed laws that Gordy called “very mean-spirited.”

“In those states, almost all religious communities have come together, at least officially, to oppose what the state has done,” said Gordy. “Now granted, most of the people who proposed and passed those laws were also members of the congregations of those churches that came together to oppose it.”

Watch a teaser of the film below:

Learn more about the documentary at EthicsDaily.com and watch more trailers on their Vimeo channel.


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Black Church Leaders Partnering with Occupy

January 24, 2012, 10:31 am | Posted by

Hamil R. Harris at the Washington Post talks with African-American clergy who are embracing the 99% movement as an important ally in the fight for economic justice.

Some critics say the focus of the Occupy movement, which by design does not have leaders, is unclear. But [Occpuy the Dream co-founder Rev. Jamal Harrison] Bryant, who observed the movement from a distance before deciding he wanted to be part of it, was adamant that Occupy the Dream has a defined agenda.

“Number one, we are asking for more Pell grants so that our young people might be able to compete and go to colleges and universities,” he said. “Number two, we are asking for an immediate freezing on foreclosures.” The group is also seeking billions of dollars “from Wall Street for economic development and for job training.”

Beginning in February, Bryant plans to launch a campaign to urge people to bank only at minority-owned financial institutions.

Bryant, 40, a former national youth director for the NAACP, said his involvement in Occupy the Dream feels like he’s “coming home” to his civil rights roots.

“I think the Occupy Wall Street movement has held the legacy of Dr. King and has brought the church back into accountability,” Bryant said. “Dr. King would be here today. He wouldn’t be at a breakfast; he wouldn’t be at a mall. He would be here with us.”

Read the whole thing here.

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Occupy Atlanta and Rebuild the Dream Help Save Historic Church from Foreclosure

January 18, 2012, 12:24 pm | Posted by

We’ve continued to highlight the creative ways that the Occupy movement has addressed corporate abuses that harm struggling families. This week we saw a huge success in Georgia, where Occupy Atlanta and other grassroots groups took an important stand against predatory banks and helped save a historic black church from foreclosure.

Higher Ground Empowerment Center is one of the oldest churches in Atlanta, located in the same neighborhood where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was raised—so when news that BB&T Bank planned to foreclose on the Center came in the weeks leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the community took immediate action.

Rebuild the Dream, an online organization working for labor rights and economic justice, launched a petition calling on BB&T to reverse their decision to foreclose on the church. The petition collected more than 65,000 signatures and inspired members of Occupy Atlanta, who have used the Center as a meeting place, to lend their voices to the cause. As Rebuild the Dream’s website points out, Occupy Atlanta’s local community action “brought valuable attention to this situation and the bank is showing that they’re paying attention.”

In an amazing victory for Rebuild the Dream and Occupy Atlanta, BB&T agreed to renegotiate the terms of Higher Ground Empowerment Center’s loan, thereby saving the 108-year-old church from impending foreclosure. We’re glad to see local actors working together for the common good, and it’s encouraging to see these positive steps toward an engaged community and a more just economy.

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