In this time of recognition and reaction to economic and social inequalities many have mobilized in creative ways. There have been demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, teach-ins, etc. And I have seen and felt the presence of the spiritual community. Interfaith gatherings have a presence in the bay area and probably beyond.
But it seems to me that this would be a fine opportunity for churches to show their commitment and demonstrate their actual values. The pope has made his statement and various courageous religious leaders have taken part. But I have not seen churches who have political clout take a stand by actually getting involved, actually taking a risk.
I cannot speak with authority on the internal political dynamics of the Catholic Church or any other church but, as a “lapsed Catholic”, I can at least speak with modicum of familiarity. The Catholic Church, still not having demonstrated anywhere near sufficient resolve at addressing sexual abuse issues, could use a shot in the arm of positive publicity. How about taking advantage of this political climate to come down on the side of the people? Imagine the power of a mobilization of a purportedly great religion supporting the masses whose contributions sustain them, whose votes alter the face of politics, whose moral leadership is in question?
Perhaps some churches, temples, mosques, etc. will lay claim to having become involved but I have not seen the kind of commitment which would result in change. Even the remarkable involvement of the spiritual community in civil rights struggles was the involvement of individuals, not instituions. It is a fine thing, certainly, to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, etc. but I have always wondered why churches (not religions, mind you) celebrate and honor the martyrs, those who have sacrificed or, in Lincoln’s words, “those who gave their last measure of devotion…” but fail to put their very existence on the line for the sake of higher moral purposes. Interesting.
I would submit that churches who enjoy tax-exempt status, presumptions of correctness and moral authority are in fact simply part of the 99%. They are in fact corporations who use their followers to gain their financial and political gains but, in the end, give only token support to these people. This is why I refuse to ally myself with any church. I am a spiritual person but I am also a thinking person and I think that a scam is being perpetrated. Certainly there are priests, ministers, imams, mystics and visionaries who are allied with various churches who are truly good people but the institutions they serve have, in my humble estimation, failed them and all their followers.
I imagine that, if there are any responses to this post, many responses will be hostile and angry. Such is the power of corporate religion to have defenders ready to attack, even kill at any sign of dissent. It is my hope that the protests now worldwide and unstoppable will, at some point, motivate the leadership of corporate religions to make a commitment to real change in line with the moral values they preach, to demand either equality and compassion or to vanish into oblivion with the exploited masses. I could get behind a church like that.