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Hostile takeovers

"Hostile takeovers" Continued...

Issue: "Food stamps surge," Nov. 19, 2011

Sub-protests and counter-protests of sorts are emerging: A Tea Party group in Richmond, Va., is demanding the city refund an $8,000 fee it paid for permission to use the same grounds that Occupy Wall Street protesters have used without charge for several weeks.

Occupation religion

So far, most church support for the protests comes in social and economic terms

By Tiffany Owens

Associated Press/Photo by Elise Amendola

What about religion at protest sites? Occupy Boston has a "Sacred Space" where individuals from diverse religious backgrounds can come to pray or meditate. At other Occupy sites "protest chaplains" are praying with protesters. Catholics Online in an October editorial concluded, "If the movement focuses on authentic human and social ideals, while avoiding the seductive pitfalls of the very secularism that has created so many of our problems in the first place, then an opportunity may be at hand."

Case McCarty and Charles Wang in Los Angeles, though, believe the protesters' focus on social and economic restructuring is misdirected. The two members of Reality, a local nondenominational church, have spent hours at City Hall handing out homemade brochures with "Where is our hope?" in front and quotations from Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and others interspersed within, along with Bible verses such as Deuteronomy 15:11, Romans 3:23, and Ephesians 2:8-10. "We wanted to ... let them know that they are loved and that there is one hope that we are all looking for and that's Jesus," explained McCarty.

They've received mixed reviews. Some Occupiers have laughed. Others shoved the fliers into their back pockets. Others stopped by their table to talk. One man even went with them to church. So far, they do not have a lot of company in presenting the gospel. "A lot of churches are backing away from the political movements," said Wang. But McCarty notes, "We couldn't have orchestrated a better opportunity to minister to people on a personal level. ... It's a group of people who are sick and tired of what the government has promised them and of being lied to. ... They're at that place where we all were before we became Christians ... where Jesus [met] us."

So far, most church support for the protests comes in social and economic terms, but Wang and McCarty are striving to listen to protesters and offer deeper answers. They take the position that human suffering is an issue of the heart, not social organization. They have the support of their church and are trying to get more people to come out with them, but not as a publicity stunt: "We're less concerned with what our particular church can do ... but more with how we can encourage the church everywhere to know what's going and how they can contribute in this way," Wang said.

Some protesters are hostile to evangelism, but McCarty believes that others aren't. He told a story of a man at L.A. City Hall who sat next to him and expressed disappointment because he thought there would be more churches out there. "It doesn't help that they don't believe in church in general," McCarty said. "[Now] they see the church is turning the back on them too. ... It broke my heart that some of them were looking for that when they came out there."

-With reporting from California by Mary Jackson; the Associated Press also contributed to this report

Tiffany Owens
Tiffany Owens

Tiffany is a correspondent for WORLD News Group.

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