Religious leaders join 'Occupy SF' march

Clergy members give boost to "Occupy" movement
October 24, 2011 6:22:37 PM PDT
On Monday, a march through San Francisco's Financial District included Northern California religious leaders that wanted to take a stand against economic inequality. The clergy members said they want to give the "Occupy Wall Street" and "Occupy San Francisco" protests some validation.

They said they wanted to be the lobbyists for the poor and middle class who cannot afford real Washington lobbyists who work the halls of Capitol Hill.

There was a "follow the money" march and appropriately enough in this case a "follow the golden calf" demonstration. The marchers had a golden calf, which represented a young version of Wall Street's golden bull.

A diverse coalition of Bay Area clergy used the biblical false idol to represent corporate greed, taking the bull on a stroll with stops at what protesters call some of the biggest temples of money making -- JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. The bull was carried during the march by men in suits, who are dressed to look like businessmen.

"We feel as though the American institutions, the financial institutions, are morally dead," said Jusone from Occupy SF.

The clergy members chanted a response to that: "And all of us together become the beloved community."

The religious leaders came in support of the Occupy SF protesters, but not many of those came along on the march. The message of the march was that there is too much money concentrated in the corporations and in their executives' personal accounts.

"When things become so out of balance, there needs to be a rebalance," said Bill Peebles from the Orinda United Church of Christ.

"Christians all over the world on Sunday morning pray 'Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors' and I think that is the common message that all people of all faiths are seeking," said Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae from the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco.

The crowd also chanted: "We come celebrating our diversity, we come affirming our unity."

Across the street from Bank of America, spectators seemed entertained. This man says he works for a big bank.

"Do you think they have a point or are missing the point? Everybody has a point, an opinion, so everyone has a right to do it," said

"I applaud them what they're doing, but actually all this picketing, spending the night out here, it's not going to work. It's going to be the same thing tomorrow and next month," said Aleisa Chenault, who works nearby the Occupy SF encampment.

Chenault's thinks to get the attention of Wall Street and corporate America everyone needs to take their money out of the banks and not spend any money for three days.

The clergy in Monday's march represent a wide range of religions and communities from Protestant to Muslim, from Vacaville to Santa Rosa. The 170 clergy members were confirmed and it appeared to be a large turnout. The "Occupy" protesters were happy to be marching with the clergy members.

"I think it's wonderful. I think we need more stuff like this. We need to connect with all aspects of the community, especially positive people like this. I know Occupy doesn't try to stand for any political or religious persuasion - that's fine. This is a multi-congregational, multi-faith delegation," said Jusone of Occupy San Francisco.

"We are creating our own version of a lobbyist for the poor and the middle class. We don't have a lobbyist to send to our representatives, who often have expensive lobbyists coming to them and speaking their issue. So we are coming here, lifting our voices and getting their attention," said Rev. Donna Allen of New Revelation Community Church.

The religious leaders said they marched for peace and justice and are hoping to change people's perspectives of the protesters. They don't want them seen as a fringe group of anarchists and that they represent every man.


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