“In the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, we decided to be a nonreligious movement,” said the middle-aged man to my left. “So, if we’re going to debate nonviolence as a tactic, fine, but not as a religious ideology.”

This statement continued to trouble me for the remaining two hours of Occupy Seattle’s General Assembly. I had been serving as a chaplain in the movement and was the subject of a media stir in December 2011 after the Seattle Police brutally beat me and threw me in jail during an Occupy action. At the time of the beating, I was clad in clergy attire and crying out for peace.

I had come to the General Assembly to listen and participate in a discussion and vote on the place of nonviolence in Occupy Seattle but found myself disoriented by my neighbor’s assertion that...

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