A court is expected to rule next week on the City of London’s request for an eviction of the ‘Occupy’ camp near St Paul’s Cathedral. Christianity Uncut have now formally declared their intention to organise a ring of prayer at the camp if eviction goes ahead. The news has been welcomed by Ekklesia.
If you want to join the ring of prayer, you can declare your intention to do so by signing a pledge of support at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ring-of-prayer-at-eviction-of-ocupy-lsx.html. People of all faiths are welcome.
Christians have been discussing the possibility of forming a ring of prayer to resist eviction for some time. I think the idea first came up on Twitter. As a member of Christianity Uncut – an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government’s cuts agenda – I’m pleased to be helping to publicise the idea.
The camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral began because the occupiers could not get closer to the London Stock Exchange. I wish they had been able to do so. The cathedral’s distinctly mixed attitude has made a headline issue out of the relationship between Christianity and radical politics.
As a result, the public have seen a variety of different Christian attitudes. Most of them can be broadly grouped into two categories. There are those approaches that want to see the Church preserving order, continuing with its routine and seeking to gently challenge injustice from within the establishment. Then there are those that wish to see the Church taking the side of the oppressed, speaking out more loudly about the sins of financial exploitation than about the inconvenience of a campsite.
Of course, I am simplifying the issue. There is a wide diversity of views within both these groups. And I do not wish to suggest that those of us who are supportive of Occupy have got it all right. We all have a lot to learn from each other. Nonetheless, there is a conflict between two different starting-points for Christianity.
The ring of prayer is an opportunity to witness to a Gospel that confronts us with uncomfortable truths. It is a chance to acknowledge our own complicity in a sinful economic system and our own responsibility for working against it. The ring of prayer will be a testimony to the power of love manifested in active nonviolence – a power stranger, subtler but ultimately stronger than the power of money, markets and military might.