Christians ask St Paul's to oppose forced Occupy eviction

London & Edinburgh, February 7, 2012: A group of clergy, academics, and church-related figures have written to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, asking them to make clear their opposition to a forcible eviction of Occupy supporters from outside the Cathedral.

The move comes as the Occupy camp, which has been in place for five months, faces an eviction order that may be implemented as soon as next week, depending on the outcome of a petition to the Court of Appeal.

The high-profile Occupy London encampment is part of a global initiative opposing corporate corruption and economic injustice which has drawn together a large movement of people, including Christians and other religious groups.

The letter to St Paul’s has an initial fifteen signatories, and has been organised by Church Peace (“connecting the church with the dissenting community”) and the Christian thinktank Ekklesia.

It declares: “We are very much concerned for the impact on the Church as well as the camp of a forcible eviction. The Name of Christ will not be honoured by such an action, and the stance of the Cathedral will be seen as being at least in part responsible.

“We do not believe that the Church should ever be in a position where it is identified with oppression. Its mission and ministry is, rather, about freeing people.

“We therefore hope that the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral will make a public statement saying that they do not support a forced eviction of the Occupy camp.”

Priest and journalist the Rev George Pitcher and Oxford biblical scholar Professor Chris Rowland are among those who have joined the appeal to St Paul’s. More will be joining it over the next few days.

Christians have also pledged to form a 'circle of prayer' to oppose eviction.

Notes to editors:

1. Founded in 2001, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world, from a Christian perspective in dialogue with others. More information here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/about

2. The joint letter to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's copied to the Anglican Bishop of London, with the full list of 15 initial signatories, can be viewed and signed here http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16246 and here http://www.churchpeace.org.uk/2012/02/joint-letter-to-st-pauls-cathedral/

3. More on the 'ring of prayer' initiative: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16075

4. Occupy LSX statement and letter: http://occupylsx.org/?p=3446

5. Further comment: Simon Barrow (simon DOT barrow AT ekklesia DOT co DOT uk), 07850 120413.