Statement of Tampa Bay Religious Leaders
on Support for the Vision of the Occupy Movement.
The Occupy Movement that appeared in New York City on September 17, 2011 has spread across the United States and worldwide, seeking new forms of human governance that respect the rights of the individual and protect the individual from the harms of undue corporate interests and corrupt governments.
As people of faith, we support the visions of the Occupy Movement.
We believe that every person deserves dignity and has the right to be heard. This is a core value across religious traditions.
We believe that no corporate organization or government is entitled to limit basic human rights or to deny the dignity of any person.
We call upon governments and those wielding power to institute reforms that protect the rights and interests of individuals.
People of faith have warned about the downside of globalization: worldwide economic inequalities, ecological degradation, the erosion of ethics and morality, and the disregard for indigenous cultures. The Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement advance these concerns in their own contexts.
In the Occupy Movement, people are questioning an economic system that disempowers the majority while enlarging the wealth and power of a social elite. This elite manipulates both politics and the economy according to its interests, while poverty rates increase, unemployment and underemployment remain high, and many face financial insecurity or overwhelming levels of debt.
We invite every American to join in the moral energy that raises these ethical questions. Let us unite in a new partnership – elected leaders, business owners and the general citizenry – to establish economic equity and security in a “beloved community”.
This is not a matter of Us versus Them. It is a matter of realizing that we are all in this together. The potential of our common humanity can be realized when we act in peaceful and democratic ways. Human community can transcend the things that divide us into haves and have-nots, that violate human rights and deny the dignity of each person. We share this vision with everyone.
The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for economic and racial justice ring clear in our ears, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” Let us change together.
11 January 2011
The Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, Pastor, First United Church of Tampa
The Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater
Bishop Charles Leigh, Apostolic Catholic Church
The Rev. Russell L. Meyer, Florida Council of Churches
The Rev. John Ransom, Ecumenical Liaison, Metropolitan Community Church of Florida
NB: Names are in alphabetical order by last name; organizations are given for identification purposes.
Rev. Leddy Hammock, senior minister, Unity Church of Clearwater
Rev. Marni Harmony, minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs
Rev. Dr. James “Jim” Culver, Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Pete
The Rev. Fred Suedmeyer, Retired U.C.C. clergy and Dir Refugee Concerns, F.C.C.
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