Blurring the line between direct action and public worship, Liturgical Direct Action brings the examples of Jesus and the Hebrew prophets into creative dialog with the Catholic Worker movement, the Plowshares Movement, and Guerrilla Theater.
The liturgical calendar provides opportunities for us to take our most sacred observances into the streets so that we may bear witness to the Spirit’s presence among the oppressed as we speak truth to Power.
For reasons we hope are obvious, we don’t typically advertise planned direct actions to the public. Here are some examples of previous liturgical direct actions:
OBSERVING ASH WEDNESDAY AT THE CATHEDRAL
On Ash Wednesday 2017, an ecumenical group of Christian activists held vigil outside of the St. Paul’s Cathedral building calling attention to the Catholic Church’s reluctance in directly naming the xenophobia and racism that have characterized Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and presidency. The activists demand that Archbishop Hebda and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis release a public statement that boldly addresses the rise of xenophobia in our church and society and encourages Catholics to reject Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric.
The activists unveiled a banner on the Cathedral building that read, “Speaking up for unborn lives more than black and brown lives is white supremacy #silenceissin”, alluding to the presumption that many of the 60% of voting Catholics who justified casting their ballot for Donald Trump did so because of his “pro-life” campaign promises.
The activists also made ash crosses on the Cathedral property. The ashes were burnt copies of some of the Catholic Church’s most racist official documents, including the papal bull Dum Diveras (written by Pope Nicholas V in 1452) which justified slavery.
The activists also placed votive candles on the steps of the Cathedral and held prayerful vigil.
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QUEER CELEBRATING FOOTWASHING SERVICE
As the Loring Park Campus of Wooddale Church ended Sunday worship on March 16, 2017, we interrupted the order of service to drop a banner and hold a worship service of our own. Offering communion and footwashing to all, we unveiled a banner during worship that read, “(Y)our Queerness is made in the image of God. #SilenceIsSin”, confronting the way in which many churches have ignored the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness or the growing incidents of violence against transgender women.
40% of the homeless youth population are LGBT…many kicked out by parents whose actions are inspired by their religious beliefs. Some churches endorse such suffering. A few speak out. But most churches remain silent and silence is deadly.
Just as Black Lives Matter has employed a politics of disruption to raise the national alarm about racist policing…just as the water protectors at Standing Rock have created a human barrier against pipeline construction…so too, should we disrupt and confound any and every congregation that fuels militarism, economic exploitation, sexism, racism, Islamaphobia, or transphobia. * * * * *
GOOD FRIDAY WITH THE GOVERNOR
On Good Friday 2017, folks from CPI, the Minneapolis Catholic Worker, and some friends were arrested at the Governor’s Mansion demanding that Governor Mark Dayton veto HF 896, also called the anti-protesting bill. The proposed bill would have criminalized protests, drastically increased fines and promoted harsher sentencing. The authors of the anti-protesting bill particularly targeted activists of color and groups like Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, who have organized non-violent protests in the wake of the police killings of unarmed black people.
We carried a large cross, conveying their belief that the anti-protest bill would fuel the crucifying police violence experienced disproportionately by black and brown Americans. We believe that Jesus was killed for standing up against the social and economic oppression of his community within a militarized Roman empire. Much of his ministry was in protest against violence and injustice, the same protest criminalized under the proposed bill.
Governor Mark Dayton saw the entire action through the window.
After a great deal of public pressure, the bill was vetoed.
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For more information, read:
Taking the Politics of Disruption to Church
Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Explorations in Liturgical Direct Action