On the 31st August a major protest took place against Atos, an organisation which has been accused of deliberately targeting disabled people for the removal of benefits under instruction from the Government.
Christians were also part of this protest, as Christianity Uncut stood in solidarity with disabled people and able-d persons who were engaging in this protest, and in the words of Symon Hill, an associate director of the Ekklesia think-tank:
“Jesus said he had come to bring good news to the poor. Atos bring bad news to the poor. David Cameron is welcoming the Paralympics while snatching away the livelihood of thousands of disabled people. Ministers could save billions by cracking down on corporate tax-dodging and ditching Trident, instead of attacking the poorest members of society. Many Christians recognise that there can be no neutrality in the face of injustice. Now is the time to act on that conviction.”
There were some scuffles at the protest and, though by-and-large peaceful, some people were injured. There were reports that as the police made an apparently aggressive move to force protesters from outside the doors of the Atos building some of those present, including disabled protesters, were crushed by the forced back-stepping by those near the building.
However, Symon Hill has informed me that there was a great atmosphere of solidarity and encouragement at the protests and that many of those involved greatly appreciated the presence of Christians prepared to stand for those less able in our society.
I am keen that those protesting are supported in their democratic right to engage in dissent whilst at the same time encouraging the police to take a softer line in their public order policing, and would encourage those Christians who would want to bring a peace-loving aspect to expressions of political dissatisfaction – whilst equally encouraging those of all faiths and none who feel passionately enough to take to the streets in a peaceful manner.