SAN FRANCISCO -- Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish religious leaders lent their support to the Occupy San Francisco movement Monday by marching from the protesters' site at Justin Herman Plaza through the city's financial district.
"Greed is the narrative of the day," said Imam Victor Shakir of the Masjid Tasbeeh Center in Oakland. "We must change that."
He stood outside a branch of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. on Mission Street, the first stop on the march to several financial institutions blamed for provoking the recession and accepting bailout funds from the government.
The march had its roots in liberation theology, a Christian movement best known for combining faith with activism duringpolitical unrest in Latin America in the 1960s and '70s.
But the scene also reflected the spirit of the Bay Area as more 100 marchers from many faiths set off from the plaza at the foot of Market Street across from the Ferry Building, filled with chic eateries and boutiques.
A handful of men hoisted a paper figure painted gold meant to replicate the Bowling Green statue of a bull near Wall Street in New York City.
"For us it's a symbol of greed and idolatry," said the Rev. Bob Matthews, of United Church of Christ in San Mateo, as the group approached the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, where some of the Occupy San Francisco protesters had pitched tents.
They continued down Market Street holding signs reading
"Do you remember when they said AIG was too big to fail?" Marjorie Matthews, of the Plymouth Church in Oakland, asked the crowd outside of the Wells Fargo on Montgomery Street. It was the third stop on the march. "We are the 99 percent," Matthews added. "We are too big to fail."
The marchers moved on to the A.R. Giannini Plaza, named for the founder of what is now the Bank of America. Standing in front of the glass-skinned high-rise on California Street, Stacie Imes and Matthew Pearson began to act out a struggle with sheets they wore symbolizing inequality and injustice as the crowd chanted "Enough is enough!'
Once freed from their symbolic burdens, the Pacific School of Religion students draped the sheets over the golden calf statue. They returned to Justin Herman Plaza for a rally within a few feet of the Occupy San Francisco camp.
Back at the plaza, they collected money to help the Occupy protesters pay the $100 they need for Internet service.
Ironically, many of the faithful and their institutions use the services of the financial institutions they were there to protest. John Brooke, of the Congregational Church of Belmont United Church of Christ, said the mortgage on his family's house is owned by Wells Fargo.
The Rev. Kristi Denham, also of the Congregational Church of Belmont, acknowledged the web of connections that exists between brick-and-mortar churches and banks like Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase. "That is why I don't want to be pointing fingers," she said. "It is the system that needs to be changed."