A year of resistance
As we near the end of the year, we want to say a big thank you to everyone who’s been involved in Christianity Uncut over the last twelve months.
In 2012, we:
- Showed solidarity with the Occupy movement, particularly by praying at the eviction of Occupy London Stock Exchange. At least five members of Christianity Uncut were dragged from the steps of the cathedral by police as they knelt in prayer.
- Called for a real jubilee of economic justice – rather than a celebration of human monarchy – in June. This made more people aware that “jubilee” in the original, biblical sense is about the cancellation of debts, freeing of slave and redistribution of land.
- Backed UK Uncut actions against government cuts and corporate tax avoidance.
- Joined Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and UK Uncut in protesting outside the offices of Atos, the company that has thrown thousands of disabled people off benefits through biased assessments. We pointed out that Atos “bring bad news to the poor”, whereas Jesus’ Gospel is about “good news to the poor”.
- Held an act of witness outside the official church service of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, encouraging worshippers to follow Jesus’ example of siding with the poor and to reject the Tories’ cuts agenda.
- Joined with Occupy London Stock Exchange in an action at St Paul’s Cathedral, calling on the cathedral authorities to take an active stand against the cuts. This has led to a meeting with cathedral authorities at which we discussed how we can work with the cathedral to challenge economic injustice. More details will be available soon.
- Joined with thousands of people of many religions and none in marching for “A Future That Works” and alternatives to government cuts.
- Called on Church House, the administrative headquarters of the Church of England, not to host a gathering of arms dealers in November. Along with members of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, Christian CND and Pax Christi, we held a peaceful prayer vigil outside the event.
- Christianity Uncut has appeared on the BBC World Service, BBC News website and in publciations including the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Church Times, Ekklesia, The Friend, Reform and Third Way.
Much of this action has been carried out in solidarity with people of many religions and none who are resisting economic injustice with active nonviolence. UK Uncut, Occupy and DPAC, along with several faith-based groups and many others, have spoken out and campaigned against the government’s policy of punishing the poor for the sins of the rich.
The impact of austerity is clear. Housing Justice, an ecumenical Christian charity, estimate that rough sleeping in London has increased by a staggering 40% in a year. Food banks have now appeared in many British cities. DPAC report that every week, 73 people die shortly after being thrown off benefits. Many are suicides.
At the same time, the richest people have had their taxes cut. Corporations avoid tax while ministers offer only lukewarm criticisms and no action. The arms trade continues to be subsidised and plans for the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system are going ahead. The government recently spent £1.2bn on a submarine.
In this situation, a number of church leaders have rightly spoken out. Many other Christians have taken a stand and become involved in campaigning. Some denominations have made statements and commitments on particular issues. This is great. But if we are to follow Jesus’ example of siding with the poor, we need to go a lot further. We need to let the government know that British Christians are part of a mass movement resisting austerity.
Recently, Starbucks agreed to pay slightly more tax after mass protests. It is nowhere near enough. We need to keep protesting against Starbucks. But the very fact that they felt the need to do this shows that groups such as UK Uncut have made an impact on the terms of political debate. Tax dodging has become a major political issue. Activism can make a difference. But we have so much further to go.
If you would like to join in Christianity Uncut actions, or help out with publicity and administration, we would love to hear from you. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. May God help us to do so much more together than we can manage alone.