“The Church is a business like any other,” says 23-year-old Conor Murray, who has travelled from his home in Galway to join the protesters in London. “It felt that its commercial concerns were threatened by us being here. The cathedral earns £16,000 a day in tourism revenue. There are Tescos that don’t make £16,000 a day… This is a protest about the gross inequality of wealth in our society and the Church has shown its true colours.”
Conor’s words reflect a general feeling in the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s cathedral that this is a Church that has lost its way. The protest was never aimed at Christianity; it was intended to challenge the corporate greed of big business but, say the protesters, the cathedral’s reaction has highlighted just how pervasive the problem is in our society. Even the country’s national religion – an institution that is supposed to caution against worshipping Mammon, the false god of material wealth – expressed dismay when it had to close its gift shop and restaurant last week.