Occupy Slams National Prayer Breakfast for '1 Percent'; Will Lead 'People's Prayer Breakfast' in Protest

Tikkun magazine, a radical left-wing publication based in San Francisco, has announced that it is working with the Occupy movement to create an alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast, which is due to take place in Washington, D.C. this Thursday.

According to Tikkun publisher Rabbi Michael Lerner, who heads the Network of Spritual Progressives (NSP), the alternative prayer breakfast will “pre-empt” the mainstream event with its message of “solidarity” with the “99 percent.”

Rabbi Lerner explained in a message to activists today:

We’ve been working with Occupy Faith D.C. to create “the Peoople’s Prayer Breakfast.” You can do the same in your area of the country–create a People’s Prayer Breakfast. It doesn’t have to be this week–take your time, make sure you do outreach to Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Ba’hai, Sikh, Wicca, Buddhist, Quaker, Unitarian, Religious Science, and all other possible communities of faith to get them involved in the planning.

Though Tikkun and the NSP have occasionally protested Obama administration policies from the left, their core religious precept–that faith’s proper expression is economic redistribution–is one that Obama seems to share.

In that vein, Rabbi Lerner and fellow “progressives” promoting the People’s Prayer Breakfast have been slamming the National Prayer Breakfast as a gathering of the “one percent.”

President Obama is expected to attend this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, and gave an address at last year’s event in which he emphasized many of the same themes the Occupy Wall Street movement now suggests the government has ignored:

I pray for my ability to help those who are struggling. Christian tradition teaches that one day the world will be turned right side up and everything will return as it should be. But until that day, we’re called to work on behalf of a God that chose justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable.

Obama also complained about “bitterly polarized” political debates–while, typically, failing to acknowledge or redress his role in dividing Americans against each other. Later in the year, for example, the White House embraced the “1% vs. 99%” theme of the Occupy Wall Street movement as part of its campaign for higher taxes on wealthy Americans along with expanded government spending.

Whether resisting co-optation by the administration, or assisting Obama’s campaign message in an election year, the Occupy activists intend to use the People’s Prayer Breakfast to give support to those of their comrades still encamped on public land, and to ensure that the movement emerges from its dormancy to play a strong role in 2012.