After being evicted from Zuccotti Park, a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters have taken a more spiritual route of expression.
Demonstrators built a Nativity scene Thursday outside of Trinity Wall Street Church, using an Occupy movement tent for the manger.
“The crèche is a wonderful gift from OWS asking us to provide outdoor space for an encampment,” said Linda Hanick, vice president of communications & marketing for Trinity Church.
“We've accepted their gift in acknowledgement of the hospitality and space we have been providing.”
Trinity Church has been actively supporting the Occupy movement, having opened their parish hall and community center facilities for protesters to plan, rest, and recharge cell phones.
“It represents the right image at the right time,” said Donna Schaper, senior minister for Judson Memorial Church of New York City.
“Jesus could find no room in the inn, nor can Occupiers.”
Protesters constructed the nativity scene not long after Trinity Wall Street Church decided to not allow Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to use an empty lot owned by the church.
Hanick told CP that Trinity Church had told protesters that their help came with certain limits to what they were willing to do.
“Our long-term goal is to address, with them, the broken systems which cause the economic disenfranchisement and lack of trust,” said Hanick.
“We do this through our grant making, advocacy, and partnerships.”
Judson Memorial has been active in helping the Occupy movement, including housing Occupy members who are on hunger strikes and holding meetings with Occupy Faith NYC.
Even with the constant support, Schaper believed that she and her church were “not doing enough to support this important national conversation.”
“When we ask for Trinity to do more, we also ask ourselves. What more could we do? I wish we could do more,” said Schaper.
Tom McClusky, senior vice president at Family Research Council Action, said that he doubted the intentions of the nativity scene.
“The optimist in me hopes it is intended as a friendly gesture, however trespassing is trespassing,” said McClusky.
“While I hope no one, not even the OWS protesters, would be so crass this Nativity scene could be a Trojan Horse.”
McClusky also said he believed Occupy Wall Street was “overridden with partners that have shown open hostility towards religion,” and so Trinity Church “would be wise to be cautious.”
The pressure from Occupy movement sympathizers has included a petition with over 12,000 signatures delivered to Trinity Church the day the nativity was constructed.
A similar episode took place last week on the West Coast, as Occupy Seattle was evicted from the tent community it established at Seattle Central Community College.
The Right Rev. Gregory Rickel of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral of Seattle sent an email out to congregation members inquiring about possibly letting Occupy Seattle use their parking lot.
Rickel’s intentions were to have Occupy Seattle use the lot as an “office space” in order to “move beyond simple survival and begin the work of solidifying their mission and vision.”
The Occupy Wall Street Nativity scene was moved to Charlotte’s Place, the community center Trinity Church allows protesters to use.