The Crossroads: Occupy Wall Street
The Crossroads is a biweekly installment where Christians of differing perspectives have an opportunity to voice their respective opinions on an issue. In the spirit of promoting edifying dialogue within the Body of Christ we encourage you to add your voice to the discussion. May our conversation be uplifting for the Church and point us all to a more clear understanding of our Savior.
|Question: Do the interests of those protesting at the various Occupy Wall Street rallies across the country resonate with a Christian perspective? Should they?|
“What is the Biblical view of banking regulation and laws protecting people against those of large corporations? It would be dishonest to say that the Bible addresses these questions directly. But for the protesters at Wall Street the question quickly becomes one of justice. Those people who took out bad loans have been punished by having their homes foreclosed on while the banks that made the same mistake have been bailed out. It seems clear that the government has prioritized the needs of banks and those with power over those without.
The protesters are reacting against what is seen as a disparity in justice. Those who can afford the best lawyers and advisers are allowed to work the system and trample on the rights of everyone else. Those with money are allowed to influence policy in Washington while the rest of America struggles to be heard. The idea that those with money should have more power goes against not just the pillars of democracy but the root of Christianity. People’s value should not be influenced by the money they have. Those with the least money deserve the same protection as those with ample resources. Additionally, all people, in the eyes of Christ, have priority far and above any organization or corporation, and it is time to insist our Government’s policies acknowledge that.”
-Keane is the cofounder of FaithfulPolitics.org and a graduate of Wheaton College. He is a designer for Crossway Publishers and lives outside of Chicago.
On one hand, the movement scattered across the country, loosely titled “Occupy Wall St.,” is the antithesis of what a Christian mindset should be. The most rudimentary description of the heart of the movement is that wealthy groups or individuals, the top 1% of American society, have too much money and undue influence, and that the other 99% of society is owed some dividend. This conflicts with notions within Christianity (diligence, non-earth-bound citizenship, and the natural laws of human interaction that God knit into the world) and basic economics (economies of scale, supply and demand, and gains from trade). Biased influence is certainly something to be decried, but the advocation of forced redistribution is not the voluntary (though encouraged) concept of giving found in Scripture, and even that encouraged behavior is private and not governmental.
On the other hand, certain attributes found in the movement represent the epitome of Christianity. The poor and needy need a voice and believers are called to serve those needs. Believers are also called to be “in the world but not of it” (1 John 2:15-17), to not be overcome by the love of money. However, when such concepts are diluted by thousands of self-interested publicity and opportunity seekers, the legitimate case is lost. When the most visible and vocal protesters’ interest is to gain unearned money for themselves rather than promote equity, their greed should be viewed as more corrupt than any corporation, for a corporation only makes a profit by the goods or services they provide to those who voluntarily purchase them in the marketplace.
As Christians, we must be careful to not over or under apply to our faith what’s going on, for the issue is certainly more political than spiritual. If anything, we Christians should be embarrassed that a relatively small group of people has captured such world attention in an effort to “occupy Wall St.” when our own calling is to occupy the world with the message of the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20).
-Chip is a regular contributor to FaithfulPolitics.org and works at a think tank in Washington, D.C.
Movements like the OWS protests often evoke criticism from Christians: as Christians, we’re called in Romans 13:1 to submit to the governing authorities. However, peaceful protest is not illegal. While conservative Christian circles look down upon protests, they are still an expression of a sense of injustice. This expression is something we should listen to, something we should consider in light of our scriptures, something we should act upon appropriately.
What are the “interests” of the Occupy Wall Street rallies across the country? The primary difficulty with this movement is the lack of a cohesive set of demands. However, if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture we may be able to discern some broad conclusions. Glenn Greenwald, at http://occupywallstreet1.com, writes: “Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power—in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions—is destroying financial security for everyone else?”
As these charges of corruption, criminality, and crony capitalism become clearer, we will need to think critically through the issues. If, however, there is validity to any of them and we find that there is indeed something is wrong with our system the mandate is clear. Isaiah 58:6 calls to us: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” In order to do this we must listen intelligently, seek out the truth within the noise, and amplify the voice of those who cannot speak up for themselves.
Thus, the only response for a Christian to movements that fight against injustice is to stand up with the cries of the oppressed.
-Josh is a guest contributer to FaithfulPolitics.com. He has an MBA from Notre Dame and works at Compassion International in Colorado Springs.
*Organizational affiliations are for identification purposes only. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the organization or of FaithfulPolitics.org.