Baptist Minister Heeds 'Call' to Join 'Occupy Wall Street,' Cites Church's Responsibility for the Poor

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  • OWS, baptist minister at zuccotti park
    (Photo: The Christian Post)
    Rev. William G. Britton at Zuccotti Park in New York City on Nov. 1.
  • OWS, baptist minister at zuccotti park
    (Photo: The Christian Post)
    Rev. William G. Britton at Zuccotti Park in New York City on Nov. 1. (2)
  • OWS, baptist minister at zuccotti park
    (Photo: The Christian Post)
    Rev. William G. Britton at Zuccotti Park in New York City on Nov. 1. (3)
  • OWS, baptist minister at zuccotti park
    (Photo: The Christian Post)
    Rev. William G. Britton at Zuccotti Park in New York City on Nov. 1. (4)
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By Luiza Oleszczuk, Christian Post Reporter
November 2, 2011|9:40 pm

A Baptist minister holding a sign reading "Occupy Till I Come" was spotted by The Christian Post at Zuccotti Park Tuesday "occupying" the park with other protesters, to help ensure that the "little people" were not getting "stepped on by the big people any more."

The Rev. William G. Britton told CP he feels God has directed him to visit the plaza by Ground Zero and support the protesters in any way possible, whether it means helping out in the kitchen or holding a banner.

"I was sitting in church Sunday morning and for the first time I really felt like I have to do this. This is what God wants me to do. I really feel I have to be involved," Britton told CP.

Britton, who is not currently affiliated with a specific ministry, but marries people who also do not belong to a specific church, believes that OWS is all about the struggle of those disenfranchised and "forgotten by our society," and that it is the church's responsibility to get involved.

"I was in junior high during the Civil Rights movement and I didn't do anything," Britton told CP. "I was in Bible college during the Vietnam War and I hardly even knew what was going on, I'm ashamed to say."

Britton has previously ministered in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Nassau County in Long Island, N.Y.

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The minister was too preoccupied with theology and learning Greek to get involved with socio-political issues, he said. Now, he understands that being socially and politically involved is exactly one of the church's most crucial responsibilities.

"I think [the church] should and I think that it does [get involved]," Britton told CP. "The problem with the church that I'm affiliated with is that I think it should have more of a role. I've been frustrated so far and I tried to talk about it to my friends about what's going on down here."

Britton’s friends have been skeptical of the OWS movement, some calling it "socialist," he said. But the minister thinks that even classifying the movement as any one thing is difficult, because "there's an awful lot of variety of opinions and perspectives and even groups represented."

"God wants you to use your resources to do what he wants you to do, which is, among other things, to stand up for the poor and disenfranchised, so that they can have a voice," the minister emphasized.

That is why, he said, he chose the phrase from Luke 19:13 - "Occupy till I come" - because it relates to a biblical story dealing with different people being given different amounts of money (the parable of talents), in addition to using the word "occupy" (in the KJV).

The movement, Britton said, is about social justice and our responsibility as Christians to be on the side of the just.

"From God's point of view, what we have has been entrusted to us. But it's not just for us, especially as believers," the former pastor said. "You need to help other people. You have a responsibility. And if we can make that case, we certainly can make it for the church. The idea is: the more you are given, the more responsibility you have."

The OWS movement has split the Christian community in the United States. Some influential conservative evangelical Christian leaders, like televangelist Pat Robertson, have condemned the movement.

"I think this is a rebellion," Robertson said on his "The 700 Club" program CBN on Oct. 29, as he responded to a question as to whether Christians should be loyal to a protest like the OWS. "I think it is atavistic. Nobody knows exactly what it is, they don't know what they're doing, why are they there? Well they're just mad. Well, is it right for a Christian to get involved in a protest of anger?"

At the same time, some other prominent Christians think that the church should give its full support to the movement. Those include two leaders of a group that was arrested in July for holding a prayer gathering at Capitol Hill – the Rev. Herbert Nelson, director of public witness for the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Rev. Bob Edgar, CEO of the advocacy group Common Cause.

"One of the things I am convinced of is that faith has a role to play in the leadership of these movements," Nelson told CP in an interview in mid-October. "I don't always get that there is a commitment to nonviolence."

 

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