Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Joining the "Most Massive Moral Rally in the South since Selma"

Rev. William Barber II at a Moral Monday.
In a couple of days, I will be in Raleigh, NC responding to the call to clergy and people of faith to join the “Most Massive Moral Rally in the South since Selma”. 

The Forward Together Moral Movement (the broad coalition of activists issuing the call) writes, “As ministers and citizens of North Carolina… we have borne witness to a movement across our state that is resisting the immoral and undemocratic actions of our legislature and governor.  With many from the congregations we serve we’ve taken part in Moral Mondays… On Saturday, Feb. 8th, the Forward Together Moral Movement is calling on all people of faith and conscience from Southern states and across the country to join us for a Mass Moral March on Raleigh.”  

The Forward Together Moral Movement was largely started by The Rev. William J. Barber II, a Disciples of Christ minister and president of the North Carolina NAACP.  In 2013, “Moral Mondays” were held in Raleigh, NC to protest state legislation that was hurting low income residents.  Specifically, North Carolina legislation has created voter ID laws that threaten voting rights in the state. There have been harsh cuts to unemployment benefits and public school funding. There have been efforts to reject Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act.  There have been tax “reform” proposals that would further reduce benefits for low income residents (and that generally seem to take from the poor to give to the wealthy).
As Rev. Barber says, “We believe North Carolina is the crucible… If you’re going to change the country, you’ve got to change the South. If you’re going to change the South, you’ve got to focus on these state capitols.”

Protesters in the Moral Movement have been gathering on Mondays all year, engaging in civil disobedience – in some cases, getting arrested. Clergy and other faith community leaders have been prominent, and many of those (including UU clergy) have been among the arrested for “trespass and failure to disperse” and similar charges.

As of this writing, more than 750 Unitarian Universalists are signed up to participate in this weekend’s march and activities, and several hundred more UUs are planning to drive in from local congregations on Saturday.  I am very happy to be the UU Congregation in Andover's representative this weekend.  

On February 16, I will be leading a “Standing on the Side of Love Sunday”.  For several years now, the UUCiA has participated in the UUA’s effort to reimagine Valentine’s Day as a day for a greater love, the work of humanitarianism and justice.   I will report back from Raleigh, and we will think together about how to bring more love into the world.  

In the meantime, check back here for an update from the trip... [Addendum: My "report back" post is here.]