Dr Fraser was followed out the door by the Dean of the Cathedral, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles. Mr Knowles had backed the eviction plans, and fell out with officials who, spooked by Dr Fraser’s resignation, decided it might be a better idea to let the camp remain. A part-time chaplain at the cathedral has also quit. Now it appears the Occupy camp will be allowed to stay until at least Christmas, while St Paul’s, and the Church of England in general, have become a laughing stock.
What has been especially dispiriting about the episode is the willingness with which so many senior church figures have offered themselves up as useful idiots for the Occupy movement. When he resigned from St Paul’s, Dr Fraser, in what was almost a parody of “trendy liberal vicar” speak, told the media that he could imagine Jesus being born in the protest camp.
If he had, he would likely have been brought up an atheist. Those protestors who have a semblance of an ideology, as opposed to those who are just there for the party, are leftists, and it’s doubtful that more than a handful will have ever seen the inside of a church. But they’ve cleverly leveraged the moral authority of the church, such as it is these days, to lend respectability to their cause (a “What would Jesus do?” banner is prominent in every TV news report).
The media have played along, with the Guardian in particular guilty of astounding chutzpah. The bible — if you’ll excuse the expression — of Britain’s secular leftists has run a stream of patronizing opinion pieces invoking the teachings of Jesus; a favorite theme, along with WWJD? is the story of Jesus chasing the money changers from the temple, from which several columnists have extrapolated that Jesus was the first anti-capitalist, and that if he were around today he’d be bunking down with the protesters.
This from a paper that misses no opportunity to sneer at traditional values in general, and at Christianity in particular (other religions, notably Islam, are of course exempt from such mockery). It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes, and they’re equally hard to find when Christianity can be co-opted to advance a left-wing cause.
The muddled but broadly sympathetic response of cathedral officials is hardly surprising. Under the leadership of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Church of England has been relegated from a pillar of British public life to an ineffectual advocacy group for assorted liberal causes.
Williams is Michael Moore in a dog collar. In his student days he was labeled subversive by MI5 for his links to all manner of left-wing groups, and far from mellowing with age he’s brought every foolish idea with him to the church’s highest office. Two years after 9/11 Williams declared that terrorists “can have serious moral goals,” and in 2008 he called for elements of sharia law to be adopted in Britain; more recently he called the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government’s relatively timid and eminently sensible austerity policies “frightening” in an article for a left-wing magazine.