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Faith Groups Are Embracing the Occupy Movement

A clear achievement of the Occupy movement is an inclusive religious and spiritual push for economic justice.

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A clear achievement of the Occupy movement is an inclusive religious and spiritual push for economic justice.

Now in its second month, the movement is gathering steam in more than 900 cities in the United States and around the world. There are already a few notable successes.

First, protesters widened the tent poles of our national economic debate from “cutting the deficit” to “economic inequality” and from “debt” to “jobs.” Their impact can be seen in recent interviews with GOP leaders such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who in a week’s time went from calling the protesters “mobs” to reassuring the public that he “cares about economic inequality.”

The press, too, is taking note. Think Progress reports that MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN mentioned the word “debt” more than 7,000 times during the last week of July, while “unemployed” was mentioned only 75 times. But by the week of October 10, things drastically shifted. These same networks mentioned “debt” only 398 times, while mentioning “jobs” 2,738 times, “Occupy” 1,278 times, and “Wall Street” 2,378 times.

A less-reported but equally significant success lies in faith groups’ increasingly enthusiastic embrace of the movement. Progressive Christian groups such as Sojourners—an early supporter of the protests—are being joined by growing numbers of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Protestant, and Catholic congregations, as well as interfaith groups that are lending their voices, bodies, buildings, and pulpits.

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