Police have forcibly dragged Christians from their knees as they prayed on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. Christians and observers expressed shock at the action, which appears to have taken place with the permission of the cathedral authorities.
The event took place in the early hours of this morning as police and bailiffs forcibly cleared the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp. The eviction order related only to land owned by the City of London Corporation, but the police insisted that the cathedral had given permission to remove people from the steps.
Earlier, supporters of Christianity Uncut had arrived at the camp following plans for a ring of prayer. Several knelt or stood in line at various parts of the camp as they prayed, sang and read the Bible. Others, who arrived too late to get through the police cordon, prayed on the outside of it. Many others were praying at home.
A large number of people, including many non-Christians, enthusiastically thanked those who were praying.
Siobhan Grimes, an Anglican living in London, was one of those removed from the steps. She said: “Christianity is not about using violence against people seeking economic justice. It is not about protecting the most privileged. It's about responding to the needs of the world around us with confidence, humility and courage. I chose to pray at the eviction because I think that's what Jesus would have done.”
Symon Hill, associate director of the Ekklesia thinktank and author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Religion, was removed twice from the steps and threatened with arrest. He commented: “I am profoundly shocked at being dragged from my knees as I prayed on the steps of a church. The Cathedral Chapter and the Bishop of London have urgent questions to answer. Did they know when the eviction was due? Did they give permission to clear the steps and, if so, when and why? What image of Christianity are they trying to send out?”
Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government’s cuts and the injustices of capitalism. They are inspired by Jesus, who took nonviolent direct action in the Jerusalem Temple in solidarity with people who are exploited or marginalised. See: http://www.christianityuncut.wordpress.com.