This is the fifth part of our five-part series on right-wing attacks against Occupy Wall Street.
A stalwart ally of corporate America, the Religious Right claims that Occupy Wall Street violates the tenets of Christianity.
Strategy Five: Claim Occupy Wall Street Is Anti-Christian
The very same Religious Right organizations that lauded tea party activists for taking to the streets are now attacking the Occupy Wall Street movement for doing the same. The Religious Right’s leadership is a faithful ally of corporate America, regularly helping the Corporate Right promote lower taxes for the wealthy and harsh cuts that impact low-income families. “Tea Party activists and Republican leaders have consistently targeted for cutbacks vital government programs that protect the poor, the elderly, children and other vulnerable Americans,” writes Rev. Richard Cizik, the past vice president for government affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals. “Baptizing as a ‘moral agenda’ tax cuts for the wealthy, steep budget cuts to programs that save lives and deregulation of Wall Street takes a lot of nerve.”
While Occupy Wall Street is not a religiously-based movement, faith leaders and faith-based activists have taken on important roles at protests across the country, denouncing monetary greed, holding services emphasizing justice and advocating policies that focus on the common good.
But to the Religious Right, the movement is unbiblical and un-American. Many Religious Right figures have accused the Occupy Wall Street protesters of coveting and stealing the wealth of the rich, inciting division and even bloodshed.
“Jesus took a whip to the thieves and the covetous in his day,” wrote Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. “If he were to come back and do the same thing today, he just might start in Zuccotti Park.”
Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a group which frequently attacks mainline Protestants, charged that Occupy Wall Street is dominated by feelings of “grievance, entitlement, idealism, and youthful naiveté” and activists who “want an all-powerful state to seize and redistribute wealth according to some imagined just formula.” “It’s a utopian dream, not based on the Gospels, always monstrous when attempted, and premised more on resentment than godly generosity,” writes Tooley. “But it’s a message that will always have an audience in a covetous world.”
When asked whether a Christian can join Occupy Wall Street in good conscience, televangelist Pat Robertson said “no” and, possibly confused on the motives behind the movement, urged that Christians instead should “demonstrate to lift the yoke of oppression” rather than join a movement he called “a rebellion”:
I think this is a rebellion. I think it is atavistic. Nobody knows exactly what it is, they don’t know what they’re doing, why are they there? Well they’re just mad. Well, is it right for a Christian to get involved in a protest of anger? If you’re going to demonstrate, demonstrate for righteousness, demonstrate to lift the yoke of oppression, demonstrate to help those that are poverty stricken. But don’t just go out and mess up a park and just scream and tear up things. Why would you get involved in something like that? It’s formless, it has no purpose, but it could be used for radicals who want to destroy this nation, and that’s the bad part of it.
Perhaps no group has resisted Occupy Wall Street more than the Family Research Council.
In October, the FRC urged its members to pray, “May God prevent these radical organizers from stirring revolution,” and to ask God to have the movement “backfire”, “fizzle” and hamper the efforts of the protests’ “sad collage of people, stirred up by radical ideologues.”
In November the group once again lashed out at the movement again in a prayer alert to members:
The expanded Wall Street Occupation is endorsed by labor unions, liberal mayors, governors, the White House, the American Nazi and Communist parties, ACORN, Hollywood enertainers [sic] and a long list of supra-liberal and liberal groups, not the least of which is the liberal media. Encampments in major cities, including Washington, DC, are not only a nuisance, a health hazard and an embarrassment [sic] to thinking Americans, they are increasingly becoming violent. Ideological anarchists intimidate and abuse bystanders, damage automobiles, jump on and in front of moving vehicles, urinate and defacate [sic] on private and public property, go naked and perform sex acts in public, produce tons of garbage that taxpayers have to collect and haul away, etc. Yet the mainstream press, which villainized [sic] the Tea Party movement, after long ignoring it, flagrantly idealizes the Occupiers and ignores the damage and ugly crimes happening in most places where an occupation is in progress. Fortunately the movement is “losing its bloom,” and beginning to die out. The honeymoon among these diverse activists may be coming to an end.
May the movement simply fizzle. May God protect those who live nearby and must encounter these raucus [sic] groups. May God harvest souls for Christ from among them just as He did discontented youth in the Jesus Movment [sic] of the 60’s and 70’s