Christians who support the 'Occupy' movement have pledged to form a ring of prayer around the camp outside St Paul's Cathedral if it is threatened with forced removal by bailiffs or police.
Labour MP Helen Goodman and Church of England priest Chris Howson are among the people who have committed themselves to joining the ring of prayer. A court ruling on eviction is expected within days.
An online pledge for people wishing to join the ring of prayer has been launched by Christianity Uncut, an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government's cuts agenda. The plan has been welcomed by the Christian thinktank Ekklesia.
Signatories to the pledge offer their “solidarity with people of all religions and none who are resisting economic injustice with active nonviolence”.
They declare, “In the event of Occupy London Stock Exchange being evicted, I intend to go to the camp to worship and to join with others in forming a ring of prayer. I will seek to act in a spirit of love towards all concerned”.
The pledge was launched late last night (Saturday 14 January). Christianity Uncut emphasise that people of all faiths are very welcome to join the ring of prayer.
“The Occupy movement has been the most liberating experience for the Church since the Faith in the City report in the 1980s,” said Chris Howson, an Anglican priest in Bradford, who will travel to London to join the ring of prayer.
He added, “We cannot serve both God and Mammon!”
The camp was set up with the name 'Occupy the London Stock Exchange' – known as Occupy LSX or OLSX. The occupiers camped near the cathedral after they were prevented from protesting nearer the stock exchange. There followed a range of responses from within the cathedral staff. Two clergy, including the Canon Chancellor, Giles Fraser, resigned in protest at cathedral plans to forcibly evict the camp.
While the cathedral has not itself taken legal action against the occupiers, senior cathedral staff have given evidence in favour of the City of London's legal case to force eviction.
"The Occupy LSX have raised vital questions about the role of finance in the modern world,” said Helen Goodman, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland in Durham, “They have reminded the nation that markets are a human invention, which we need to control in the interests of all people. The idolisation of the City has been one of the most dangerous developments in recent years.”
Goodman explained, “I will pray to God that the City is reformed to serve rather than be served”.
The associate director of Ekklesia, Symon Hill, also promised to join the ring of prayer.
“There is something deeply wrong when we focus more on the inconvenience caused by the campsite than on the exploitative nature of the City of London,” he said, “The Gospel confronts us with uncomfortable truths. We have to witness to the realities of our financial system and to the injustice that continues when we collude with it.”
Supporters of the ring of prayer are showing their support on Twitter, by using the hashtag #Mark1115, in reference to Jesus' nonviolent direct action against financial exploitation in the Jerusalem Temple. Mark's Gospel records at Chapter 11, Verse 15 that Jesus “began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers”.
The online pledge for those hoping to join the ring of prayer in the event of an eviction can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ring-of-prayer-at-eviction-of-ocupy-...