Starting with Occupy Wall Street, protests have spread across the United States with Americans from all walks of life decrying the economic inequities faced in our nation today. This movement is a new "Great Awakening" with implications for our spiritual lives.
People of faith are called to stand with the "least of these" and like in the days which Jesus walked the earth increasingly the "least of the these" make up the majority of the people as power and wealth become concentrated in the hands of a few powerful individuals (and in our time corporations).
In 2007, the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches adopted "A Social Creed for the 21st Century" that could read as a platform for Christian participation in the Occupy America movement. It read, in part:
In the love incarnate in Jesus, despite the world's sufferings and evils, we honor the deep connections within our human family and seek to awaken a new spirit of community, by working for:
- Abatement of hunger and poverty, and enactment of policies benefiting the most vulnerable.
- High quality public education for all and universal, affordable and accessible healthcare.
- An effective program of social security during sickness, disability and old age.
- Tax and budget policies that reduce disparities between rich and poor, strengthen democracy, and provide greater opportunity for everyone within the common good.
- Just immigration policies that protect family unity, safeguard workers' rights, require employer accountability, and foster international cooperation.
- Sustainable communities marked by affordable housing, access to good jobs, and public safety.
- Public service as a high vocation, with real limits on the power of private interests in politics.
For Christians, supporting the Occupy America protests should be clear-cut. The protesters are lifting up principles of compassion, justice and love. These principles are central to the Christian faith.
We need to do more to address the truly fundamental problems facing our nation. As a start, we need Congress to pass President Obama's American Jobs Act.
But we also need to dig more deeply and make the American economy work not just for the wealthy and the largest corporations but for the common good of all Americans -- while at the same time taking note of our place in the global community.
Supporting Occupy America is a Christian act born out of the call we have received to help build-up the Beloved Community. Our churches should seize this movement as a new Great Awakening and once again preach a Social Gospel that lifts up the common good of all and firmly rejects prosperity theology and other movements in our churches that have allowed us to ignore the fundamental principles of biblical justice.