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From within the “Occupy Wall Street” ranks, a call for a new “confessing movement”

“This morning I saw a Photoshopped image on Facebook that caught my attention,” writes self-described radical left-wing Christian activist Nichola Torbett in her blog Jesus Radicals.

The photograph captured protesters at Occupy Wall Street, but superimposed over parts of the photo were captions like “Video camera by Panasonic,” “Camera by Sony,” “Black marker by Sharpie,” and “Posterboard by Weyerhauser.” Underneath the photo was a longer caption that ended with something like “Meet me at Starbucks after we finish protesting those greedy corporations.” As you might have guessed, the photo, originally posted by Midnight Trucking Radio Network and clearly intended to discredit the protests, was drawing the ire of my radical left-wing social network.


“So,” writes Torbett, “all this has me thinking that we need a confessing movement. We need a movement in which we start by confessing our part in the suffering we have perpetuated in our efforts to escape suffering ourselves. “Not my banker brother, not my stockbroker sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

She continues:

Or maybe I should model this by starting with myself. I need a confessing movement. No matter how much I work for racial justice, my white skin and the (so far) continuation of white supremacy conspire to keep me locked in the oppressor position, keep me benefiting from the limitations placed on darker-skinned people. I do not think this nullifies my work for justice, but I do long for more honesty. I long for a place to say: “Sometimes I am greedy. Sometimes I put my personal profit above the good of the community. Sometimes I seek status at others’ expense. And I am not sure I can stop on my own.”


I long for a movement that transforms me as it transforms social structures. I can’t do any of that alone.

And so, I need you, and I need a confessing movement, so maybe it’s okay to say that we need a confessing movement. The confessing movement is a place for confession, yes, but it is also a place for radical repentance. It is a place to cry out to God for deliverance, a place to seek God’s face in each other and in the Spirit of change that seems to be gripping us, and a place to recommit to cultivating the disciplines of love, generosity, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude.

The Confessing movement has been an evangelical movement within several Christian denominations striving to return those churches to the teachings of the Bible.


Its members have had a stated commitment to remain in their home denominations — which include evangelicals, Pentecostals, Holiness groups and such increasingly liberal mainstream churches as America’s Episcopal, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, United Church of Christ (Congregational) and Lutheran churches, as well as fundamentalist groups, including the Southern Baptists, Mennonites, Christian Church/Churches of Christ and Bible churches. Participants have proclaimed they will stay within their denominations — unless forced out — to stay and work for reform from within.

Of particular concern to those in the Confessing movement has been a perceived lack of concern for, or non-evangelical approaches to, evangelism, to the deity of Christ and to the authority of the Bible. A large group of laity and a somewhat smaller group of clergy within the mainline churches have protested that their denominations have been “hijacked” by those who, in their view, have “forsaken Christianity” and embraced what they consider moral relativism.


Although many issues face the Confessing movement, the trigger that led to its formation has been whether the church can accept practicing homosexuals in leadership or condone same-sex marriage. Other issues have been the ordination of women and the decline in attendance of many of the historically mainline denominations while conservative congregations within their ranks were growing. Leaders of the Confessing movement claim the shrinking of membership as evidence of a wrong path taken.

But now from the ranks of “Occupy Wall Street,” Torbett calls for a Confessing movement “for ordinary people —

… imperfect and no less lovable for it, deformed by our experiences of social trauma, at once yearning and tentative — people of all colors, classes, abilities, genders, sexual orientations, immigration statuses, and ages, who are coming to understand that we have benefited (albeit to vastly different degrees, depending on our social locations) from the suffering of others.

We need a movement where it is safe to look honestly at ourselves, acknowledge our true histories, make mistakes, be forgiven, and keep moving forward together.

“So what do you think?” she concludes. “I’ll bring the ashes if you bring the sackcloth.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment annasandra

    this is a powerful realization,and one that will bring us together.i believe the consequences are world changing.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jimbo

    this is NOT about the goods that corporations produce. It is about unbridled power exercised by corporations over our government (ya know “We The People”) in DC.

    Publicly financed elections are a first step.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment ohcanada

    Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. – Repentance starts at home, honey. The only place you need to be for a “confession movement” is to stand before G-d. The rest will follow. And when making your confession “movement” remember: prayer without devotion is like a body without a soul. Isaiah 29:13-24

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment observer

    The mistake made here is to think that because these protesters are against the exploitative practices of corporations and banks, that they should be against all instances of material possession. It is as though you believe a digital camera could not exist unless there is a manipulative, selfish and greedy corporate structure causing it to exist.

    Why not a socially and environmentally conscious, humanitarian organizational structure facilitating the existence of these material things, for the good and betterment of all people?

    You have been brainwashed into believing that self interest and greed are the only forces capable of motivating human creativity and innovation. What pitiable non-sense.

  • Headshots

    The Occupy Wall street is an interesting movement. It’s small beginings where dismissed by most. Now it’s growing and we don’t know where it will lead to.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cakes

    I don’t feel like I need to confess. I thank whomever made the corporate poster because they had done a lot of ‘homework’ for me as a protester of the status quo. That poster IS one of our points: too many corporations, too many loopholes, too much Wall Street and not enough Main Street. Corporations are NOT people and they need to stop being given “protections” as if they were a person.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Edgar R. Schneider

    I am a committed, practicing Roman Catholic who adopted that faith as a young adult. The two things that initially attracted me were social justice as a moral imperative and a belief in objective truth, without which there can be no imperatives.

    Two statements in our catechism that examplify this are: “Any project in which profit is the sole goal and the sole criterion of success is morally unacceptable”, and “Regulation of the economy by the market fails social justice; many human needs cannot ne met by the market.”

    One book I am now re-reading is “The City of God” by St. Augustine. He wrote it after the Sack of Rome in AD 410. He wrote that the Empire was crumblimg because of greed. But, he took it a step further and pointed out that it was greed that built the Empire in the first place. Nothing turns a vice into a virtue than when it pays off.

    When I am asked to categorize myself politically, I have come to write: “Catholic Radical”. FWIW, at my next birthday, I will turn 80.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cathy

    Cakes – I’m an atheist, but I still see the value in “confession.” Recognizing our own privilege – ways in which we benefit at the expense of others – is a good tool for understanding injustice in the world. As a working-class white woman, I know that I have opportunities that are not available to many poor and minority people. With that understanding, I can work to help correct those injustices, to level the playing field for all people.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nancy

    Not sure I compltely understand the protesters reasons and action. I can’t imagine every manufacturer and banker is greedy. There have to be corp. to manufacture the items we use. I think many more manufacturers and/or CEO’s may be Christian and have good values, but today to admit to being Christian isn’t politically correct. I am always willing to help the needy, but not the greedy. I have worked since I was 12 years old and now am 79. Everyone should have the same opportunities, but what they do with them is up to them. Give all the opportunity!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Charlie Botts

    Of course Christians must acknowledge our culpability in allowing a worldly system of economics and commerce that is so totally opposed to the teachings of Christ, to become the new predominant religion of America. If the greatest trick the Devil ever played is convincing modern man that he doesn’t exist, the second greatest was creating such a seductive economic system- Corporate Capitalism- that created a world where we consumers of goods and services are so removed from the methods and processes of producing our goods and services, that we have become completely oblivious to the injustice and pain created by such a system, upon the servants of such a system, on ourselves and upon God’s Creation. We truly do need to acknowledge our sins of ignorance, vanity and greed and ask God for forgiveness.

  • Barry David Butler

    Check out my Song about this called “WE’RE THE 99%”….Don’t sell this Movement Short at your own peril. This is about BIG ideas not small Political ones…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jerry L. Day

    Confession IS good for the soul, a nessity in fact, however our Corporate Brothers and Sisters never confess anyrhing. Even when they are fined 100 or 200 million dollars they say they did nothing wrong. They HATE the Justice Department, it is the name I think. They woul take everything you have if someone didn’t STOP em. The Stock Market is one of the greatest inventions from the mind of man. It is perverted however along with the banking industry. REMEMBER Banking deregulation which gave the banks free riegn to do whatever they wanted and in a few years they were busted, right or wrong. Isms
    run amuck.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Vanessa

    The Wall Street protesters are not against Capitalism per se, I find that they just want the wealthy to pay their fair share and
    distribute the wealth generously. It does not make sense to me that a corp can make 2 billion in revenue and have to lay off workers so the CEO to have another mansion, buy an island or another jet. Being wealthy is not the crime, it is what they do with it that is.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment MIke

    To whom much is given, much is required. Only God knows the heart and will pass judgment. The Bible doesn’t say the “much” is to be collected and distributed by the government to those who don’t have it. It is up to each of us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and lend a hand to those in need as we can. Corruption exists in each of our hearts as much as it does in big corporations and government.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Karl

    this artice is very misleading. We don’t need to look at ourselves as a nation, and it is certainly not a black/white issue. It is a banking issue. The Federal Reserve single handedly controls the money supply, interest rates, and inflation. This in turn effects who gets loans and who gets jobs, not to mention it also controls the credit card companies and the stock market. This article describes how we should follow Christ’s teachings called the ‘beatitudes.’ It ignorantly overlooks Jesus’ disgust with the money changers in the temple when he over turned their tables. These were truly ‘international bankers’ since Jews from around the known world came to the temple in Jerusalem during Passover. In our time, the social injustice is NOT black and white, but poor and rich. My generation (I’m 28) doesn’t not have as many racial attitudes (although it clearly exists). My best friend is black. In closing, this article doesn’t address the real problem and real reason for the wall street protests.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Charles

    What is the definition of fair share 40%, 50%, 60%, etc…and what have you done to receive any of it A corp can revenue but it also has expenses and not not all revenue comes from the USA What is the definition of risk and reward?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cathy courtney


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