Catholics United Occupies Wall Street

Posted October 14, 2011

I want to share with you a fun project that Catholics United was part of this past weekend in New York City.

For the past few weeks, Americans from across the spectrum have been gathering on Wall Street to protest corporate greed. These protests are now spreading across the country and the world is starting to pay attention.

Catholics United staff members were so inspired by these protests that we decided to join the conversation. Working in tandem with our friends at Faith in Public Life and Judson Memorial Church in New York City, we constructed a giant 'Golden Calf' in the shape of the Wall Street bull. The ‘Golden Calf’ refers to the story in the bible when, in Moses’ absence, the Israelites lost sight of God and began worshiping a false idol. We believe that today, too many Americans worship the false idols of greed and selfishness while others simply struggle to make ends meet.

So this past Sunday we paraded our giant 'Golden Calf' around the park where the Wall Street protest is taking place and the response could not have been better. As the 'Golden Calf' made its way through the park a large cheer erupted. We then gathered with the protesters and held an interfaith prayer service.

Our work made national headlines. Pictures of the 'Golden Calf' were published by the Associated Press and ran in newspapers across the country, including the front page of Washington Post. The success of this action showed me once again just how important it is for people of faith to speak with authority in new and creative ways.

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James, Jason, Deneen and the rest of the Catholics United team

Here are some of the great press hits from this past Sunday:

ABC 7 New York: Local religious leaders join Wall Street protest

“The group carried a golden calf, they say a symbol of our spiritual poverty, a false idol. Marcie Agee came here with her pastor. "Jesus stood with the 99 percent, Jesus believed in equality for the masses, the rights of workers for everyone having their fair share,"

Daily News: Occupy Wall Street protesters march Golden Calf named Greed around Zuccotti Square

“In an inspired bit of theater, the Occupy Wall Street protesters on Sunday paraded a shiny effigy of the Biblical Golden Calf modeled after the iconic Bowling Green bull statue. "It's a false idol, just as much as the Wall Street bull has been a false idol for so many of us for so long," said protester Ed Needham. The golden calf, labeled Greed, was marched around Zuccotti Square on Day 23 of the Occupy Wall Street protest by a group of clergy who then held an interfaith prayer session.”

Huffington Post: Occupy Wall Street, The Golden Calf and the New Idolatry

“James Salt of Catholics United, who was on a spiritual retreat the weekend before, made the calf. He built and designed it within three days. Why? He was inspired by the actions of Occupy Wall Street and wanted to lend spiritual and biblical support. "Faith and Public Life" rented the van and brought it into town. We put it on our altar, and then carried it down to Wall Street on Sunday to feature it in our multifaith worship service. We are in the process of reproducing the calf as I write. Why? The Calf has returned to D.C. for the weekend's protests there.”

New York 1: Clergy Members March Alongside "Occupy Wall Street" Protesters

“Chanting as they marched around the perimeter of Zuccotti Park, an interfaith coalition of Muslims, Jews and Christians carried a golden reproduction of the "Wall Street" bull, symbolizing greed and the biblical "golden calf" that was idolized as a false god. "This is a symbol of our spiritual poverty in this country, of how far we've come from the basic principles of what we are supposed to be doing in this country," said the Reverend Michael Ellick of Judson Memorial Church.”

Your Jewish News: The Golden Calf returns on Wall Street.

“The golden calf, labeled Greed, was marched around Zuccotti Square on Day 23 of the Occupy Wall Street protest by a group of clergy who then held an interfaith prayer session. They sang "We Shall Not Be Moved" and waved signs saying, "Jesus is with the 99%." We support the poor," said Lauren Giaccone, 25, who attends Union Theological Seminary uptown. "The calf represents the idolatry of greed - what this country has come to hold up as a true value. But this country was founded on equality and justice for all," she said. Father Luis Barrios of St. Mary's Episcopal Church on W 126th Street was among those marching with the papier mache calf. "The country has created a false god: the idea that money and greed are all that matters," he said. "There are many people to blame for this, but Wall Street is the beating heart of the problem."