Occupy Geneva

guest post by Richard A. Davis

I’m visiting Geneva for a week doing some research and academic work in the Ecumenical Center library, and visiting Aiko, a friend made during the GIT in 2010. My visit to Geneva coincided with the global day of occupation “October 15“, part of a new movement to resist corrupt financial markets and public bailouts of a financial system that fails the 99% and handsomely rewards the 1%. Being curious about this event, and the pace at which this movement spread across the world, I tagged along with Aiko and Chris to see what it was all about.

The Occupy Geneva event had a few speakers (a real test for my limited French) who spoke about the banks, the financial system and problems of the global economy. While many members of the public share these concerns (along with some confusion about what this movement is about and what their demands are), Christians will be attune to the cries of the poor and those marginalized by the present economy. The church should not be dismayed or confused by these outpourings of indignation at the gross accumulations of wealth and the corruption that lies at the heart of the global capitalism, but can engage with it and learn from it.

The Reformed churches have had a long history of speaking out against injustice in the global economy. WARC, a forerunner of the WCRC, had a Processus Confessionis on economic injustice and ecological destruction. A study text for 23rd General Council of WARC (1997) called upon WARC member churches:

to commit themselves to the search for a just economy that affirms life for all and to bear witness that alternatives do exist. We call upon them to learn from people and resistance movements effectively engaged in struggles for economic and ecological justice, both locally and globally, whether within the church, among other faiths, or in secular movements. (§ 39)

A response to this movement could therefore be to listen and learn to the people’s concerns. The church can listen, but it also has at its disposal prophetic lanaguge for censuring injustice and comforting those most affected by global injustice. It can provide language for people to make sense of their situations and offer radical criticisms of the sins of greed and pride that lie behind much of the current injustices in the world economy.

At the following General Council WARC affirmed the Accra Confession (2004), which included these words:

we reject the unregulated accumulation of wealth and limitless growth that has already cost the lives of millions and destroyed much of God’s creation.

Here are some photos from this weekend of action.

Outside the UN building, Geneva

banner on the Reformation Wall

Banner on the Reformation Wall, Geneva


Richard with an occupation banner