How Should the Church Interact with the Occupy Movement?

How Should the Church Interact with the Occupy Movement?

Reblogged from: “Saints Herald”
by Matthew Bolton (November 8, 2011)



…it is incumbent upon the Saints … to be in the world but not of it, … using the things of this world in the manner designed of God, that the places where they occupy may shine as Zion, the redeemed of the Lord.Condensed from Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants 128:8b, 8c.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers den.” Matthew 21:12-16.

“It’s time to invite the Occupy Movement to church!” says Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who this week called for the creation of a “church sanctuary for the Occupy Movement.

The Sojourners blog God’s Politics also recently published a “Confession“, in which the author Sheri Ellwood says she has “noticed many individual Christians expressing support, but little public support for the movement from the Christian community as a whole.” This is certainly true within the Community of Christ — a quick search of the church website, the Facebook discussion group, the church’s young adult blog and the church’s official blog reveals … absolutely no discussion of the Occupy Movement at all!

Now, despite the church having “Abolish Poverty, End Suffering” as one of its five key “Mission Initiatives”, I hadn’t expected much from the church. But nothing? Not even a dismissive — “that’s not the way to go about effecting change”? Not even a critique of the language of ‘occupying’ as opposed to ‘decolonizing’ or ‘liberating‘? How can the church be so incredibly out of touch with the economic and political reality in country in which they are headquartered? Indeed, there has been no lack of discussions among Christians about the movement, even some of the Community of Christ’s cousins out in Utah have been more proactive about discussing what the Occupy Movement means. There is even an Occupy Missouri contingent.

Am I the only one who thinks the desire of the Occupy Movement to establish communal encampments, sharing things in common, using consensus decisionmaking and considering how to discern paths to a more just and equitable society has interesting resonances with the Community of Christ’s historical theology of building Zion — building ‘kingdom of heaven’ in the here and now?

I think it might be worth republishing here a few “fundamentals and principles” someone back in the Community of Christ’s earlier history claimed would “foster and promote” a new “religious social order:”

Remembering the welfare of fellow-men, especially the unfortunate and poor.

The distribution of surplus wealth according to the law of need.

The determination of just wants.

The fair exchange of commodities.

Each to have his inheritance (private possessions).

Every man to have opportunity to make the contribution in consonance with his talents.

The condemnation of the rich who gather for personal gain, the exaltation of the poor and humble who with contrition refrain from exploitation of others’ goods and who labor with their own hands.

The equality which comes from the operation of the law of needs.

Who said these things? Some wild-eyed unwashed hippie or grumpy unreconstructed Old Leftie? Nope, Frederick M. Smith, the church’s Depression-era president, speaking in similarly troubled economic times in America. Ironically, you won’t find them on the Community of Christ’s website, but rather on that of the Remnant Church, a conservative group that split off from the Community of Christ.

Do we need an Occupy CofC Movement?
See and contribute to this conversation at “Saints Herald”.

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