Activists and Religious Communities

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May 22, 2012 at 1:53 am #2398


When I was in 7th grade, my parents sent my sister to a fundamentalist Baptist boarding school, an experience that still frequently recurs in her dreams, more than 12 years later. My dad is an economic conservative, while my mom is a religious conservative. My dad generally went along with my mom’s decisions regarding “household” decisions. Going to a college-prep school, I had not wholly bought into the fundamentalist religious worldview. But still, being a loyal believer in Christianity, capitalism and America, I did not question my parents’ judgment at the time.

I still struggle to understand exactly what happened. How could a place like this even exist in the first place? Of course, I ask myself the same thing when I see Fox News blatantly stigmatizing and scape-goating minority groups. Fox News and the 1% target minorities and groups like Occupy, routinely calling that they be sacrificed on the altar of our nation’s economicor social well-being.

Here’s the thing, though. Religious symbols can be used in either progressive or regressive ways. The protectors of the status quo should not be given a monopoly on them. I believe much can be gained from increased communication between activists and progressive religious communities.

The hypocrisy was on full, arrogant display with the passage of Amendment One. Society is messed up, Fox News tells us, and it’s the fault of the poor (for not having better jobs), immigrants (for not being white), Muslims (for not being Christian), and homosexuals (for existing). They are playing the same role as the pharisees in the Gospels–damning to hell anyone who stands in between them and the growth of their power. Isn’t it interesting how history repeats itself?

The battle of religious imagery between regressive, pharisittical proponents and the progressive element plays out in all religions, not just Christianity. I believe there is potential for Occupy to tap in to religious symbols and language of all faith traditions in order to better get our point across. As an example, Matthew 23 expresses my feelings towards Fox News and the religious-political leadership in America:

They do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see. … Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”

Who will be the next sacrificial lamb that Fox News demands be brought to the altar? The fact that this is a legitimate question to ask makes Occupy’s role all too obvious.

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