Last week, a deranged malefactor was arrested at Occupy Wall Street for threatening to launch Molotov cocktails at Macy’s. It might have been a Macy’s Thanksgiving to forget.
A much friendlier Occupy Wall Street offering comes from my Religious Left friend, Jim Wallis:
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It’s time to invite the Occupy Movement to church! And Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion. Have some of the young protesters—the “99ers” as they’re becoming known—from this rapidly growing movement over for a big holiday dinner!
Our faith communities and organizations should swing their doors wide and greet the Occupiers with open arms, offering them a feast to say “thank you” for having the courage to raise the very religious and biblical issue of growing inequality in our society…. Let’s invite the young occupiers into our churches and ministries for good conversation and a great meal.
If our mayors and police departments are making the Occupiers feel unwelcome, why don’t we welcome them to stay on our church property if they need someplace to go?
Open our church basements and parish halls as safe places to sleep—shelter and sanctuary as cold weather descends upon many of our cities….
The Occupy movement needs a sanctuary.
On the surface, Wallis’ invitation sounds innocent enough, albeit remarkably odd given that the “OWS” movement is extremely secular, not exactly characterized by prayer circles and Bible studies.
But what struck me about Wallis’ suggestion is its historical irony and naïveté: Churches as sanctuaries for radical leftists?
Well, this is exactly what happened in the original Days of Rage in Chicago, which was the inspiration for Occupy Wall Street (click here).
The original Days of Rage occurred in 1969. Its ringleaders included Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Tom Hayden, and Mark Rudd—all of whom magically reappeared in 2008 as Progressives for Obama. In 1969 they united in Chicago under the banner, “BRING THE WAR HOME!”
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Rudd, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) leader who shut down Columbia University a year earlier, established the plan of action: “In Chicago the pigs have to be wiped out. We’re going to fight with violence and wipe out Chicago.”
An organized riot ensued, erupting on October 5, 1969 when these apostles of “peace” dynamited the statue commemorating Chicago police killed in the 1886 Haymarket Riot. The anti-war protesters went to war with 1,000 police.
Particularly dispiriting—and my interest here—was the role of the Religious Left. Amid this rampage in Chicago, liberal Christians stepped in to offer aid and comfort to the revolutionaries. It was a matter of “social justice.”
Consider: Just like at Wall Street today, numerous leftists occupied the streets of Chicago. Where would they find housing? There was no easy solution, especially since many were wanted for violent activities.
That fall of 1969, the answer came from nearby clergy. A special clergy group was established for the purpose of finding housing. As Mark Rudd recorded, “churches [were] loaned to us by sympathetic clergy.”
So troubling was the intervention of these liberal pastors that Congress investigated, taking testimony before the Committee on Internal Security in December 1969. According to the official Congressional investigator, the revolutionaries were accommodated in Evanston at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Covenant Methodist Church, and at Garrett Theological Seminary, where a police officer was beaten. In Chicago, they stayed at University Disciple Church in Hyde Park.
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