At the US Social Forum that just ended in Philly, one of the gatherings that happened was a People’s Movement Assembly that centered on the importance of Faith and it’s intersection of with Justice. It happened on the heels of both Spiritual gatherings and workshops that occurred at the Social Forum in Philly. One of those workshops, that I conducted, on Solidarity with movements of the Poor, particularly around the idea of Liberation Theology, was among several, that informed our discussion for the PMA that happened on the last day of the US Social Forum. Though a small crowd in attendance, it was a very committed and excited group of people, ready to promote change from the bottom up. It included both lay leadership and clergy. Several ideas came from this group to further promote the creation a of new world that is necessary.
Listen to audio of the Interfaith PMA and the US Social Forum 2015 in Philadelphia
Some of the discussion focused on the Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment and Poverty, and his impending visit to Philadelphia. There was also discussion about the role Faith must play in uniting with the dispossessed class of the Poor. The necessity of being informed and led by this class. And, that all the sacred texts of the various faiths reflect this understanding. Further, there was an understanding that Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples, and other places of worship, should also be center’s for organizing and uniting with the demands of the poor.
It is also significant that emphasis was placed on the role that arts and culture must play. Amongst this small groups were artists and performers that suggested the Biblical references of musicians leading the oppressed into struggle was an important function of Social Change. One group represented called “Carnival de Resistance”, a production of Holy Fool Arts, travels around the country as a Carnival, Village, and School for Cultural Transformation (www.carnivalderesistance.com). This group, is one method of Social Transformation that the Interfaith group is considering utilizing. We also discussed community gardens, alternative economies, and human rights approaches to social change. In the end, we determined to continue dialogue, networking, sharing readings, and resources ideas. We also determined to approach all of work with a solidarity model in mind, seeking direction, input, and leadership from the class of the poor. We also came out with an understanding that we are living in a revolutionary time and that all efforts must be centered and focused in local, regional, national, and international fields of struggle. And, that Spiritual practice in vital to this growing and ongoing struggle and movement.