Friday, October 14, 2011

OneAngryCultist: Religion and the 99%

In the past three and a half weeks the Occupy movement has spread from Wall Street across the nation to over one-hundred cities and seems to be growing by the day despite arrests and threats of eviction. The 99% represents a smorgasbord of different groups representing different political and social perspectives, but little has been mentioned about the religious aspects of the protests.

Last night, your very own OneAngryCultist joined Ian Awesome at the downtown Seattle Occupy Demonstration where he witnessed the dismantling of a Sukkot booth and the subsequent arrest of ten Occupy demonstrators in what amounts to an act of religious discrimination in addition to the growing intolerance Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has toward protestors.
Sukkot tent being, not occupied, dismantled by Seattle Parks and Recreation
As a member of the minority religious philosophy of Thelema started by Aleister Crowley following the revelations of the central holy text, The Book of the Law, witnessing the destruction of a very clearly religious gathering place affected me deeply and viscerally. As I wrote in my own personal blog, The Digital Enchiridion:
“At the time of writing this essay, we have seen in our world one hundred and seven years of non-stop global conflict: entire civilizations rise and fall in a single generation; countries, states, cities, civil and municipal governments, religions, communities, and families torn asunder cruelly and mercilessly; the rise of the nuclear age and all the anxiety that came with the mastering of the atom; economies have taken on monstrous forms, strangulating countless millions under harsh labor and new slavery of debt; and, in short, the threat of the entire collapse of “the way things were”. Not a comforting image, to be sure, but a real one and one not without hope.”
Religion and spirituality play an important role in people’s lives giving them strength in difficult times and guiding them in their individual causes. I’m reminded of the central role it played in the protests of the Civil Rights Movement led by Rev. Martin Luther King, the protests against British imperialism in India led by Mohandas Gandhi and the responses to LGBTQ bullying led by the nominally non-religious but none-the-less spiritual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Note from the editor: the Sisters plan to demonstrate with #OccupySeattle tonight-- IA).

In many of the Occupy cities, there are varying degrees of religiously identified groups in attendance offering their support and the support for demonstrators. Both HuffPo and USAToday have coverage of some of the religious goings on and at the Jesuit run weekly, America Magazine, Tom Beaudoin observes:
“there seems to be fairly wide latitude for people to find their way into the economic focus from many different political (and I would presume religious) commitments. (No doubt some are serving as chaplains or spiritual advisors, formally or informally, for this movement, and if so, I would be interested to hear from you.)”
Personally, I too would be interested in and like to hear from more religious groups in my city as a show of unity among people of faith, without sectarian squabble. It is this OneAngryCultist’s belief that the more people come together, the greater chance there will be for dialogue and greater understanding to be gleaned from various perspectives. I would like to see a greater religious voice in the public squares hosting these events, as a show of support and representation of the diversity that makes up the Occupy movement.

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