Protesters at St Paul's say bankers not Occupy should be evicted

By staff writers
14 Oct 2012

Christians and other Occupy supporters have conducted "dignified protests" at St Paul's Cathedral on the anniversary of the encampment there.

A group of Christians hung a banner down the front of the building. They are calling on the Church as a whole to resist government cuts and follow Jesus' example of siding with the poor.

Their action follows the refusal of cathedral authorities to meet with Christians who were dragged from the steps of St Paul's in February as they knelt in prayer during the eviction of the Occupy camp.

Tomorrow (15 October 2012) marks the first anniversary of Occupy London Stock Exchange.

The group, Christianity Uncut, nonviolently unfurled a banner declaring 'Throw the Money Changers out of the Temple'. It depicts Jesus' protest against usurers and religious hypocrites in the Jerusalem Temple.

The action by Christianity Uncut coincided with action by women members of Occupy, who read out a statement in St Paul's about the cathedral leadership's decision to support the City of London against the Occupy movement.

The action was jointly backed by Christianity Uncut and Occupy the London Stock Exchange.

While the choir sang, the four women, dressed in white declared their own sermon to mark the anniversary of the start of the Occupy camp outside St Paul's, accusing the cathedral authorities of colluding with banks and turning their backs on the poor.

Occupy had been invited to read a prayer at the service, but after Tanya Paton, of Occupy Faith, had read her prayer, the group of women rose from their seats and chained themselves to the pulpit.

Christianity Uncut member Symon Hill, who was also removed from the steps in February and is now in the cathedral, commented: "Two thousands years ago, Jesus Christ threw the usurers out of the Temple. He protested against people who exploited the poor, and religious leaders who let them get away with it."

"Many Christians are speaking out against the government's slash-and-burn policies on public services and the welfare state. Sadly, some other church leaders have shown more solidarity with banks and corporations than they have with the poorest people in society," said Mr Hill, who is also an associate director of the think-tank Ekklesia.

Christianity Uncut member Siobhan Grimes, who was removed from the steps in February2012 and went to the cathedral this afternoon, said: "We have not taken the decision to engage in this action lightly. In February, we were dragged by police from the steps of St Paul's as we prayed. We sought respectful dialogue with the cathedral authorities, but they refused to meet with us. We have therefore sought other ways to make our views known.

"This is not about attacking the Church. It is a demonstration by Christians, calling on other Christians to take a stand against cuts and inequality," she added.

The Rev Dr Giles Fraser, who resigned his position at St Paul's over the threat of forced removal of Occupy last year, wrote today: "[W]e have to be so much more than a high-class debating society. As the Occupiers reminded the church today, Jesus angrily ejected the moneychangers from the temple. It's hard to imagine circumstances in which the Church of England would ever do the same."

Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the government's cuts agenda and the injustices of capitalism.

They say: "We are inspired by the example of Jesus, who took nonviolent direct action in the Jerusalem Temple, in solidarity with people who are poor, exploited and marginalised. Christianity Uncut is committed to active nonviolence in all its work, rejecting both violence and passivity. [We are also] committed to campaigning alongside people of other religions and of none and to love and respect for its opponents."

* Christianity Uncut: http://christianityuncut.wordpress.com

[Ekk/3]

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