Some interesting thoughts from Campbell Campbell-Jack on the ongoing St Pauls / #occupylsx debacle.
Even bampots should feel free to protest. The Occupy London protesters may be self-regarding and sanctimonious, faulty in their analysis and confused in their solutions, nevertheless, if they feel strongly enough they should camp out in St Paul’s and shout to their heart’s content.
What is much less acceptable is the behaviour of the Chapter of St Paul’s. Initially the protesters were welcomed, they enabled the church to demonstrate its ‘right on’ credentials.
However, the protesters stayed. Visitor revenues fell. Lo and behold along came a health and safety inspector who decreed that it was too dangerous to allow services to continue whilst the protesters were encamped. As a result the services at St Paul’s today were held behind closed doors.
I would urge the protesters not to give in to the moral blackmail of the Chapter.
The protesters argue, quite plausibly, that there is no danger posed by their encampment. Their presence is peaceable and they have no intention of blocking the exits in the case of a catastrophic fire. This is a something the possibility of which clearly keeps the Chapter awake at nights, St Paul’s having a long history of catastrophic fires. After all you never know when the Luftwaffe might return.
In ancient Rome Christians met in secret because they faced the very real prospect of being a lion’s lunch. In England Anglicans such as Latimer and Ridley braved the fire for their faith. In Scotland the Covenanters met in the hills because of the all too real prospect of imprisonment, torture and death at the hands of Episcopalians. The Christians of China met in secret because they faced concentration camps. The Christians of the Confessing Church faced the might and hatred of the Nazi state and risked everything, and sometimes paid with their lives, for the necessity to preach and live the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Chapter of St Paul’s crumble before a health and safety man armed with a clipboard.
The protesters may well be bampots, but at least they have convictions.
It’s hard now to work out who are coming off worse in all this – the protesters who seem to have no real point to their camps apart from complaining about something in a place with no power to change the thing they are complaining about and with no concrete suggestions what they want to see instead, or a Cathedral chapter with a Canon Chancellor who missed the opportunity to move the protesters on and a Dean now caught between a rock and a hard place.
If St Paul’s re-opens then the Chapter will look naive in shutting it in the first place, if it stays closed then they will come across as either being cowed into submission by some health and safety nonsense (and let’s remember that the *actual* health and safety document on which the Chapter acted hasn’t been publicised) or unable to accept that their decision to close was wrong. Worst of all, if they attempt an enforced removal of the camp then you know the kind of headlines that will follow.
Who’d be a Cathedral Dean eh?