It is not unreasonable for the protesters, and indeed the wider public, to ask whose side the church is on. In initially extending a welcome to the occupation, then withdrawing it, the Dean and Chapter at St Paul's resemble nothing more than a disgruntled householder or inconvenienced road-user. Nor is it the fault of the cathedral, or the Anglican church, that "health and safety" has become synonymous with a culture of excessive caution and a cipher, for many, of Britain's ills. But to cite "health and safety" as a reason for closing a mighty and much-loved building seems at once petty and an overreaction.The protesters were not inside the cathedral; they were, and are, camped outside. Their tents do not even constitute a major obstruction to visitors. Public hygiene may be a concern, but it does not appear to worry tourists overmuch, who are flocking to see the camp – and boosting local businesses, even as they find the cathedral doors locked. The protesters have a valid point to make; it is not incompatible with tourism.It also has to be asked whether it was wise for St Paul's to complain about the financial losses it was sustaining from the closure. Of course, the upkeep of such a major architectural monument is expensive. But many will feel that there is a distinction between a house of worship and a money-making enterprise and that, where substantial entrance fees are imposed, this line risks being crossed. It is not only the protesters who might be tempted to object: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Only Canon Fraser, the guy who welcomed the protesters, told the police to butt out, and is now threatening to resign, emerges from the affair with credit.