I have visited St Paul's Cathedral for the inauguration of my friend the Bishop of Swindon, who is a fellow immunologist. I must say it is a magnificent building and concert venue. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, a fellow blood transfusion specialist and scientist, it is of architectural and historical importance. I believe it ought to be preserved for the nation on those grounds.
I am not in favor of a national church and would vote for the disestablishment of the Church of England if I had the chance. My parents baptised me into the C of E without my consent and I have seldom taken part in any of their services. There are, of course, many true Christians in the C of E.
The Occupy London sit in is different from those elsewhere in the world in that it has got itself involved with Establishment Churchmen in a way that it hasn't elsewhere. In some way the protest has got itself conflated with the story in the gospels of Jesus overturning, with some violence, the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple.
From what I have seen of the London Occupiers, they are nicely-spoken, reasonable, middle class youngsters - mostly unemployed - often hirsute, left-wing and scruffy, but non-violent and naive who feel aggrieved at the way that the economy is shaping up.
The funding of St Paul's is from entry fees (it makes £16,000 a day) and grants from institutions in the City of London, which is immensely wealthy. I have no doubt that a disproportionate amount of money is garnered in the City from less than admirable sources. Insider trading undoubtedly exists and the whole system is geared to favor those already rich. Gambling, which is a national pastime, is where big money is made. So I have some sympathy with the protesters, though I doubt whether their methods will do more than raise the debate. I must say that I have no remedy for the lack of justice within finance, though my own personal wealth has grown by cautious investment over the past 30 years. I must be one of the richest 1% on the planet if not in the UK alone.
Most of us do not quibble if some one is rich having worked hard, though inherited wealth (if it implies that someone does not have to work) or wealth attained by trivial work, criminality or deceit does raise our ire. We are also moved by extreme poverty, unless it is brought on by idleness or refusal to work. Many of these well spoken young people outside St Paul's would be better employed working in a refugee camp in the horn of Africa - I would certainly give a donation for their travel out there.
The same could be said for those churchmen who side with the protesters. I think we have too many church buildings. The church is the gathered body of believers and a church building may favor that gathering, but it doesn't have to be owned by the church or be particularly beautiful. I have met in town halls, school classrooms, basketball courts and in the open air. The main purpose of a church meeting is to preach the gospel so as to make, mature and mobilize disciples. I really don't see much of that going on at St Paul's.