The Occupy Wall Street movement has re-energized congregations and other religious groups on the left side of the spectrum and antagonized those on the right, but so far there are few signs that it is having a broad impact in American religion.
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (October 28) reported that a “growing number of leaders from across the religious spectrum have been supporting Occupy Wall Street’s protest against greed and economic inequality.” Yet it is clearly mainline Protestant and liberal movements of Catholicism, Judaism and other faiths that have most strongly made their presence felt at the various protest sites.
Interfaith prayer services and the support provided by “protest chaplains,” usually seminarians, have been the main corporate religious activities at the protest sites. Religious organizations and congregations have also provided practical assistance to the protesters, such as donating tents, food, money and even shelter when protesters were forced out of the park in New York.
The religious left blog Religion Dispatches (November 4) reports that there are “cross-pollinations that exceed interfaith politics, and to which some faithful 99%ers may be opposed.” A makeshift “community altar” has been set up in New York’s Zuccotti Park, where protesters of all faiths come to pray or meditate before images of Ghandi, Alex Grey, John the Baptist and Kwan-Yin. At the Occupy Boston site, there is a “Sacred Space” tent that invites meditation between a Buddha statue and a picture of Christ. Occupy Phoenix built an improvised shrine where First Nations traditions interact with Catholicism and Neo-Paganism.
(Religion Dispatches, http://www.religiondispatches.org)