Yesterday (since updated to early morning Monday), in what should be seen as a thoroughly embarrassing report -- but mostly won't be -- the Associated Press's Jay Lindsay in Boston, with help from Karen Matthews in New York, devoted almost 1,000 words to the involvement of various religious clerics in the ongoing Occupy Wall Street activities.
Before getting to their report, I'll bring readers up-to-date on the starkly irreligious, anti-religious, and, yes, downright sinful elements of Occupy Wall Street which Lindsay and Matthews chose to totally ignore in their report. The video involved comes from MinnesotaMajority.org, and follows the jump (Direct YouTube; HT Powerline; Warning - some strong language and disturbing images):
Now that we've got all the "inconvenient" stuff out of the way, let's look at some of what Mr. Lindsay and Ms. Matthews wrote (bolds are mine):
Religion claims its place in Occupy Wall Street
Downtown Dewey Square is crammed with tents and tarps of Occupy Boston protesters, but organizers made sure from the start of this weeks-old encampment that there was room for the holy.
... A day's schedule finds people balancing their chakras, a "compassion meditation" and a discussion of a biblical passage in Luke. Inside, a Buddha statue sits near a picture of Jesus, while a hand-lettered sign in the corner points toward Mecca.
The tent is one way protesters here and in other cities have taken pains to include a spiritual component in their occupations. Still, Occupy Wall Street is not a religious movement, and signs of spiritually aren't evident at all protest sites.
Clergy emphasize they are participants in the aggressively leaderless movement, not people trying to co-opt it. Plus, in a movement that purports to represent the "99 percent" in society, the prominent religious groups are overwhelmingly liberal.
Religion might not fit into the movement seamlessly, but activist Dan Sieradski, who's helped organize Jewish services and events at Occupy Wall Street, said it must fit somewhere.
... Clergy who support the protests say they are a natural fit with many faiths, because they share traditional concerns about economic injustice. They also point to history, including the civil rights movement and abolition.
"Every movement for social change that has really made a difference has included the power of God, the power of the spirit and the power of people of conscience," said the Rev. Stephanie Sellers, one of the Episcopalian "protest chaplains" praying with protesters at different sites.
... Religious elements haven't sprouted up as visibly in other Occupy Wall Street movements nationwide, said Elizabeth Drescher, a lecturer on Christian spirituality at Santa Clara University, who has visited the occupations in Santa Cruz and St. Louis.
... "If Moses or Jesus or Mohammed were alive in this day and time they'd be out there guiding and inspiring and teaching these young people," he ("Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, who helped organize Friday's Muslim prayer service in New York") said.
Several points among many which could be made:
- I suspect that the presence of religion at "Occupy" protests around the country is far from "not evident at all protest sites." I would suspect it's not present at most -- and even if it is in a small way, I would suggest that the clerics involved are being used as a "see, they're not all bad" cover as opposed to having any meaningful persuasive influence.
- The caption at the photo accompanying the story tells us that "The Council on American Islamic Relations New York Chapter and the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York hosted Friday prayer at Occupy Wall Street." It was nice of the AP pair to "forget" those organizations' names, especially CAIR, in the final excerpted paragraph. CAIR was named "an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror-finance trial against the Holy Land Foundation and its former officials" -- and is still considered "the product of a Hamas-support network in the United States."
- More broadly, given the visible anti-Semitism and other actions hostile to religion seen at OWS gatherings, the religious folks involved seem to have no appreciation for the historical fact that they would end up at the front of the line for persecution if the leftists who are dominating the current proceedings ever get their way.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.