Why I Am in Jail

As I write this note, it is 12:30PM and I’m sitting comfortably in my office at the NC Council of Churches.  At 3PM, though, I will be in the gallery at the NC Legislature, and by late this afternoon I may find myself in jail.

[Editor's note: David was arrested on Tuesday around 4pm.]

The current legislature is making a host of decisions which are contrary to the teachings of Christianity, and I feel called to resist those actions with my very body.

Some may say that the actions of the legislature are legal and mandated by the people, and it is therefore suspect to oppose them. I contest that some of the actions are legal (sound public education is guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution, for example, but is being systematically gutted by the current legislature), but it’s not the legal argument I will be making tonight. I will leave that to the lawyers.

Rather, I would argue that what is right and what is legal sometimes come into conflict, and when they do, our allegiance to God’s teaching should be stronger than our allegiance to the state.  To repeal the Racial Justice Act, to gut public education funding in favor of vouchers for private schools, to prevent federal unemployment money from reaching needy state recipients (when this has no impact on the state budget), to restrict access to the polls by requiring photo IDs, to stop a whole host of services to the poor, from disability funding to health programs to legal representation, stopping same-day registration, stopping Sunday voting, etc. — these things are unconscionable.

When Jesus began his ministry, he said “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” The direction of the current legislature is very bad news indeed for the poor, and as people of faith, it is our responsibility to oppose it.  There are many ways to oppose it, of course, and I encourage others to explore how they are called to do so, whether it is a phone call to the governor to encourage her to exercise her ink well and veto bills that are morally unjustifiable, a letter to your legislators, or marching with HKonJ. Whatever shape our action may take, though, we must act. It is hard for me to reconcile inaction and faithfulness.

The point of getting arrested, in this case, for me, is to simply call attention to what is going on Jones Street. I think the vast majority of North Carolinians are good people and people of conscience, and would not stand for what is happening there if they were aware of it. I believe that many of the people who voted for the current leadership would also not stand for these actions, but were manipulated by fear into supporting a radical faction which is now betraying the very people who put them in office. Of course, North Carolinians are also busy people who are struggling with issues that occupy their time and attention and may keep them from being fully informed.

If we do not call attention to these issues, though, our struggles will become much more difficult to bear. We have to make the time to tune in, and to take action. My action, this afternoon, will be to refuse to leave when I am asked to.  I will break the law willingly, and will pay the price of that civil disobedience to the law because it would be a higher price to disobey my conscience, shaped by my faith.

When asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus said “Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, strength and spirit, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  I believe that ‘love,’ in this case, is not an emotion. Rather, it’s about how we treat each other. In a representative democracy, we decide what matters and who matters through our governmental process. If we are to be faithful to Christ’s teachings, we must be active in that process, because in the eyes of God (though apparently not in the eyes of the NC legislature), everyone matters, not just the privileged and the powerful.

- David LaMotte
Program Associate for Peace
NC Council of Churches

David LaMotte, Consultant for Peace David LaMotte, Consultant for Peace

Comments

  1. John Meyer says:

    Dear David,

    Thank you for your faithful witness. I pray that it bears fruit in slowing the rush to ill-considered legislation that seems directed against the poor and that it awakens your fellow citizens in North Carolina to take action as their conscience dictates.

    Blessings, John

  2. Matt Miles says:

    Hey David,
    I can’t wait to hear your reflections from the other side of the bars. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” comes to mind as one of the great pieces of work that have been inspired by such experiences. I have somehow managed never to be arrested but then it sounds as though you had that all in your plans. Good show, buddy! For what you stand, I applaud. For whom you stand, I pray! Holding you in the light. I’ll see you Indy in a couple of weeks if you can keep yourself out of the hoosegow!!!

  3. Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks says:

    David,
    For your heart, your words, your integrity……I am THANKFUL!
    “They will know we are Christians by our LOVE”

  4. I can admire those who stand by their convictions;however the actions of Rev. Barber and others are merely distractions from the tough decisions which have to be made. It is not the role of government to do misionary work. People have become weak, and dependent, unable to function on their own. Compassion and charity are the domain of the indicivdual. People of faith fool themselves into believeing they are doing good works while supporting those who stand in direct opposition to moral and faithful doctrine. You my friend have been seduced by people who are determined to maintain the slavery of the masses, and you should be championing the force of self determination, motivating people to take charge, not take what they can get. You are not amartyr sitting in a cell, you are a self made victim and deserve neither sympathy or empathy. For you help perpetuate the policies which have brought this state and nation to the brink.

    • Matt Miles says:

      Tim,
      For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25)

      or…

      15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21)

      I’m not even going to paste in Luke 16:19ff) because it might give you a heart attack, Tim. When I read these things, and when David reads them, we believe that Jesus was serious about taking care of the poor. That’s “moral and faithful doctrine”, sir.

  5. Mr. Lamotte,

    I admire your courage to stand in defense of your faith. It has been my habit that when I read of any commentary on biblical teaching from any source, I verify the scriptural references and study through everything word by word. Striving to be as the Bereans, so to speak. I have been unable to positively locate the scriptural reference for the your statement that Jesus began his ministry with the words “I come to bring good news to the poor.” My expectation is that you are referring to Luke 4-18, but again I am unsure about the basis for that specific statement. If you would be so kind as to provide a reference I could verify, I would greatly appreciate it. I should also mention that I have access to 11 different translations should we require them.

    The references I did find related the beginnings of our Lord’s ministry are:

    Mat 4:17 (KJV) From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

    Mark 1:15 (KJV) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe in the gospel.

    I send wishes of grace and peace to you, but I am not convinced that our Lord began his ministry as you had stated in your article.

    In Christ’s service
    David Schott

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for your faithfulness and care in correcting me there. You’re right, that is not technically taken from any translation, and therefore it was an error to use quotation marks. I’ve updated the blog so that it now reads thus:

      When Jesus began his ministry, he said “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

      The point is unchanged, I think, but clearly you are right in correcting me there.

      Grace and peace,

      David

  6. jim bier says:

    Thank you for standing up and being strong. With actions like yours we could stop these wars.

  7. Michael Bowers says:

    Religious teaching (doctrine) can be separated from politics–that is the separation of church and state. However, morality can never be separated from public policy. Public policy, at its most basic, reflects a society’s morality. I think that is probably at least part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

    I don’t see what you are doing as necessarily religious, David, although it does, no doubt, springs from your religious convictions. But it does call all of us to examine our own moral basis–what do we want in our civil society. Is it really “everyone fends for themselves?” Is there no common good? I hope not.

    A government of the people, by the people, and for the people, has to be committed to the common good and welfare of the people. Fiscally responsible? Yes, of course. But not to the extent that “them that’s got shall get…” That is not a country or society worth living in. God bless you, and may we all get past the diatribe and sound bites, and dare to stand for each other rather than for ourselves only. My prayer (and yours I know) is that we will follow our greater angels, and not our lesser ones.

  8. Laura Collins says:

    David,
    I am heart-sick over what is happening in our state these days. I pray Gov. Perdue will have the strength to stand against these bills with her veto power and I believe that actions like yours help strengthen her resolve. Thanks for making these issues more visible by your actions.

    And no, voter fraud is not rampant at all. Photo IDs are just Jim Crow by another name. I work the polls in my district and know how important it is to be able to process all the local voters carefully. If you’re concerned, volunteer to work the polls. We’re always, always looking for workers!

    Peace and blessings!

  9. Rev. RB Hoffman says:

    David, thank you for standing up for those among us who are most in need – and most in need of being heard. At our Jeremiah study this morning we looked at some of the charges being made against Judah – not caring for the poor and the orphaned – with great concern about what is happening in our state and country. Blessings on you and those who stand with you in this important work. Keep the faith! – Robin

  10. Joshua Cavanaugh says:

    I was impressed and proud of you when I heard about this yesterday David. I hope all goes well in these subsequent months.

  11. David,
    I am deeply grateful to you and Rev. Barber and all the others who put yourselves into the public “firing line” as well as arrest and potential future consequences to shine a light on what is happening in our legislature.

    It’s important to live in and with love. But there are times when love requires taking a stand. Saying, “No more, turn back.” I can’t think of a more loving thing you could have done for the people of NC at this moment in time.

    Courage, friend. Christ is standing with you.
    LisaRose

  12. Carol Dolezal-Ng says:

    David,
    Truly you are living out the mission of the North Carolina Council of Churches, but most important, the mission of Christ. Thank you for your witness. Prayers for the decision makers… Prayers for you… Prayers for your precious family that I’m sure miss you as you follow this call…
    Peace,
    Carol

  13. I have a great deal of respect for your willingness to put your principles on the line; this story makes me hopeful in many ways. I also respect you for answering those are responding negatively about the issues you believe in with respect–frankly, I wouldn’t be so patient myself, but you are a better person for that.

    I recall that much of the civil rights movement in the 60s when I was a child was actuated by churches & in fact by southern churches. Although I myself am an agnostic, it gives me hope to see Christians in this country who are willing to work for social justice & who don’t equate Christianity either with Adam Smith capitalism or exclusion of those who are different. Tho I don’t belong to the religion, I was brought up in it, & it’s my understanding that neither of those positions reflects the core beliefs.

    Keep the faith–you are an inspiration.

  14. Today I am more than usually proud to claim you as a long-time, lifetime friend. (Though I’m not entirely clear how much more proud I could be on a day-to-day basis.) And while we arrive at our vast common ground from rather different starting points, yours in faith and mine in nontheism, it would be my contention that all of us who seek an ethical stance in our relationship to the rest of the world must arrive at similar conclusions. No justice, no peace.

    Thank you for your courage, your leadership and your heart.

  15. As David LaMotte says very clearly, Jesus came to help the poor. Any action that does not help the poor, therefore, is un-Christian. It is even anti-Christian.

    It is so beautiful. So simple. So clear. To live by this makes life whole and rich with true wealth.

    These cuts in education and cuts in all other forms of beneficent programs are un-Christian. If this is a nation under God, then this nation serves the poor rather than overlooks or harms them.

    Help the poor. Speak up when the poor are unaided. Then you can invoke the name of Christ. Anything else, you really may not. It is simple.

    Thank you, David, for reminding all of us.

    Laura

  16. Sara Simpson says:

    David,

    I have always admired your courage to speak truth to power. You’re right, many of us are so overwhelmed by the needs of our own lives that we do not stay informed about what is happening in our government. That’s why I am so grateful that God has called you to take this stand now, so that others might pay attention and speak out as well. I’m praying for you and cheering you on.

    Sara Simpson
    Tampa, Florida

    P.S. We need someone like you down here in Tallahassee too. :(

  17. Jorge Arvelo says:

    David,
    You are inspiration. I am also praying for you as you take a stand against injustice and take the side of the poor, just as Yeshua would have done. May the hearts and minds of the state government be open to the message of our blessed Savior. Peace.

  18. Karl Werne says:

    David,
    I admire and applaud your thoughtful approach and gracious efforts to bring awareness. I can see no more honorable or respectful way to bring change to a system that needs it, which makes me more hopeful than does the usual negative closed-minded escalation of partisan loud voices encouraging stubborn dissent while quietly more and more of our freedoms and possibilities are quietly voted and legislated away. I would like to thank you for your compassionate example and I wish you peace to your heart through any personal challenges this effort causes you.
    My thoughts and best wishes are with you, Karl

  19. rather than argue the details of this post or the aspects which are apparently raising church & state issues, i would like to comment on what i gleaned as the true purpose of this piece and your endeavors.

    what is defined by the law is not always the right thing to do. that is easily recognizable in many other countries, but lives in amongst a grey area in the united states. in my brain it doesn’t matter how many sides are brought to a discussion or who thinks their view is the most important. the only thing which really matters is that we are all willing to engage in open and informed communication and have a real conversation….not a shouting match.

    i applaud you David, for not only realizing that these issues need to be addressed, but also for being a strong enough person to put your heart, soul and body into action for your cause. no matter what anyone believes, spending any amount of time in jail could never be easy.

    i am glad you are safely home and that i am fortunate enough to call you my friend.

  20. Kristin deWitt says:

    Hey David ~ I’m glad to see there aren’t as many negative comments as I expected to find when I saw your post. I am proud of you and grateful for you and others like you who are willing to stand up, speak out and go to jail if they must in the face of injustice. I haven’t had the opportunity to be arrested (yet!) but I’ve been loud a lot this spring myself. You have my support, you know that, so I’ll respond to a couple of the earlier negative comments.

    As to the photo ID requirement and the continual bleating about voter fraud ~ it would behoove those who are concerned about the possibility of fraud and convinced that it’s happening to an overwhelming degree to find the actual numbers of those instances. I, for one, would much rather deal with the handful (almost literally) of names in every election that voted fraudulently while insuring that everyone has the chance to exercise their right to make their voices heard in what is often the only opportunity available. I agree that it is a civic responsibility to have oneself documented ~ IF IT IS POSSIBLE. What many don’t seem to take into account is the very real difficulty some have in having the funds to get that ID. It may not seem like much but when one is doing everything they can just to keep themselves housed and fed, that $35 or $50 can be literally out of reach.

    As to the “legislating morality” comment ~ I, for one, always find it interesting to see what “moralities” many of these legislators choose to legislate and what they don’t. And in what ways they choose to address these issues while professing LOUDLY their obedience to Jesus’ teachings. I’ll get personal here and say that I believe in God, not religions. I lost my faith in religion and the Church when the Church allowed me to be abused and cared more for my abuser than for me and my fellow sufferers. I believe Jesus was one of the great teachers we’ve been given here on Earth. He happens to be the one with whom I’m most familiar because, after all, I grew up here in America which, for all we profess to be for freedom of religion and a melting pot, is a nation devoted to and shaped by Christianity. Given that, I would challenge all of our legislators and all of us to remember Jesus’ words, “Whatever you do for/to the least of these you do for/to me”. It is this charge, I believe, that lead David and his fellow arrestees (*grin*) and one which I believe we would all do well to follow.

    With love and respect ~ Kristin

    • Just because there are only a handfull of people caught casting fraudulant ballots doesn’t mean that’s all of them. If the police give out 100 speeding tickets in a day, does that mean there were only 100 speeders that day?

      • Kristin deWitt says:

        I knew I shouldn’t use the word “bleating”. Sorry about the lack of respect in using it but I just couldn’t think of another word as I was writing. That said, Greg, of course there may be more who aren’t caught/found but I guess my question would be, do you honestly believe there are so many people doing so that it has changed an election outcome? Does it seem at all possible to see this as a way of disenfranchising citizens? Because I see far more danger of that than fraudulent voting. I also am far more afraid of corporations flat out buying the whole election and its process. This whole argument seems to me to be more fear mongering, of creating a problem and scaring folks, so as to further the implementation of disenfranchising people who might vote differently than some in power would like.

  21. David – You always inspire me to be a better person with your actions. Thank you!

  22. Robin Dake says:

    David – thanks for walking the talk and speaking for those who sometimes can’t speak for themselves. In these tough times, it seems the poor and under-served are taking the biggest hits.

  23. Neely Stansell-Simpson says:

    David,

    Thank you for taking a stand and putting your faith into action. In the Bible we always see Jesus identifying with and advocating for the poor. I’m so glad that there are people like you in the world who are willing to do the same. You’ll be in my prayers as I am sure there is a lot of emotional stuff that comes with taking such a stand, putting yourself out there, and opening yourself up to all kinds of comments. Sending you warm thoughts, support, and peace from South Carolina. I hope I’ll get to run into you sometime this summer in Black Mountain.

    Neely

  24. Lisa Wiffledust says:

    Hi, David. I saw your posts on FB, and I have been sharing them. You are an inspiration to me and to many. Please don’t think that your action goes unnoticed. There are people who post on FB and other sites but never write a letter to a representative much less protest. You are doing what needs to be done, and I am grateful. Stay strong, you are not alone. xxx

  25. Thom Little says:

    Good luck, David, and well done. This is very difficult stuff to do, and creates a lot of oportunites for doubt, embarrassment, fun stuff like that. I appreciate you doing this.

  26. Lisa Markley says:

    David,
    As a quaker turned agnostic, who had truly begun to lose hope or belief that any kind of protest really makes a difference, I am inspired by what you are doing. I realize that whatever questioning I have gone through these past few years was due to burnout as much as anything else. Through your actions, I am being gently nudged to take a closer look at what I stand for, (or to ask, “what do I stand for” is more like it), and to look very closely at what I can do about it. Thank you for all you do.
    Lisa Markley

  27. Kylie Ochsenbein says:

    Hi David, What an incredible 24hours you have had, and I read these comments above with such pride in you and what you stand for. Not only do you treat your detractors with respect, you are well informed and willing to act on what you beleive in. More people need to do more, rather just sit back and complain. Well done and we are praying for you, and your beautiful family, in FTP, Australia! Keep following your heart and take strength from those who support and love you, Kylie

  28. Thank you, David, for standing for the least of us. I am moved by your courage and your devotion to justice.

  29. Asking for a picture ID when voting? ABSOLUTELY this should be done. How else can we prevent fraud???? That is sound legislation and shouldn’t be resisted by anyone who wants to see a true outcome in any election. If someone doesn’t have a picture ID there are ways to get one. Be a responsible citizen. It goes beyond showing up at the voting booth.

    • At least one issue in regard to getting an ID is that people who are in poverty (I’m thinking “working poor” here, but obviously there are those without jobs) often don’t know that they need to get one until it’s too late to do something about it, and then they often find it difficult to take the time off necessary to jump through the hoops needed to get one. Anyone who’s had to sit through lines at the DMV (and here in CA, that’s often a LONG line) knows how difficult this can be.

      Another issue is that it often becomes a cloak for racism, whereby people who “look different” are asked for these cards while others are given a pass.

      This is not to suggest that these problems can’t be overcome (although doing so would likely take money, which is the very thing that we don’t have and which is therefore the cause of some of these laws being passed). It is to say that these problems have existed whenever these kinds of ideas have been tried, and thus it is not unreasonable to assume that they would be problems this time around.

      • So, someone who is so ill informed that they don’t know they need an ID is informed enough about the issues that we should make a concerted effort to be sure they get to the poll? The real reason some want to make sure these folks are able to get to the poll is because they are pushing the right button once they get there. It’s a simple case of faux concern about these people’s rights when in fact it has much more to do with advancing one’s own personal political agenda. If the working poor, illegal immigrants or felons were more prone to pushing the R button, then the Democrats wouldn’t be nearly as concerned with their right (or ability) to do so. I’m not saying that is the case in the situation of the author of this article but it’s abundently clear when one observes the actions and intents of most. If these people feel compelled to vote, then they should be compelled to find out what they need to do in order to be able to do so. Just because others are compelled to get their vote shouldn’t be a factor.

        • Please don’t put words into my mouth. I’m not advocating for ill-informed voting. I would, however, argue that any attempt to ensure that only informed voters make it to the poll will have it’s own problems. How would one ensure that the voter is informed without promoting one particular agenda or another?

          (By the way, here in CA, the Hispanic vote–these are legal folks, of course, but this is also the ethnic block most likely to be an illegal immigrant around here–is just as likely to vote R as D.)

          • I wouldn’t dream of putting words in your mouth dear, just trying to make a point. How would requiring an ID to vote be an attempt to ensure that only informed voters make their way to the poll? It is an attempt to make sure that illegals and felons do not vote. If someone is informed enough to know the requirements to vote, then chances are good they know why they are going to the poll. Only about 50% of the population votes in any given presidential election. Alot of those people are not working poor yet no one is sending buses into their neighborhoods to make sure they make it to the poll. Wonder why?

            I find it interesting that Hispanics in CA are as likely to vote R as D. That is not what Pew Hispanic Center reports. http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/98.pdf Oddly they report that CA hispanics vote more then 2 to 1 in favor of Democrats. 67% to 31%. That is a huge margin when you are talking poll numbers.

        • The blessing and the curse of American politics is that we do NOT require literacy tests or specific gpa’s or salary levels or skin color in order to participate in the democratic process. Others have tried it and it doesn’t work so well. As for the charge that D’s are only interested in the poor and disenfranchised because they typically vote D, two things: R’s should make them their priority, then it wouldn’t be an issue. Two: I worked for the Obama campaign and a large part of what I did was register voters. Not one time did I ask people who they were going to vote for, and when they self identified as Republican or as Democrats who did not like Senator Obama, guess what I did… I helped them register to vote. I would rather live in a country where everyone has a voice, and If I am part of the minority, then I have worked to give voice to as many people as possible.

    • Having to provide a photo ID will not stop fraud when it is not even required for absentee voting – so the fraudsters will go to absentee voting.

      Except, in NC, there are hardly any fraudsters. In the last 10 years, there were 18 confirmed cases of voter fraud. That’s less than 2 votes per year.

      And, having worked at the polls, I am very confident in the process here in NC. We ask for name, then address, then have the person sign that they are who they claim they are. In the database, a neighbor of mine who had recently died was flagged… as are people who have moved or not voted lately. If you try to vote for a “flagged” voter, it will be a provisional ballot until they can confirm that you really are who you claim you are.

      But the solution of photo IDs will not be cheap. It will cost NC taxpayers $2 million to implement. And it will make the lines at the polls (even early voting polls) much longer. So, David, when you are standing in line to vote, remember to sing this little song: THAT’S THE WAY, UH-HUH, UH-HUH, I LIKE IT…. THAT’S THE WAY, UH-HUH, UH-HUH, I LIKE IT…. YEAH!!!

      Because that is what YOU wanted….. long lines, more expense, and still no ability to stop voter fraud.

      And be sure to thank the senior citizen who takes your photo ID to check it against the records…. they like will be half-blind by the end of the day.

  30. Jimmy DtD says:

    You are the same people who will go in and scream “separation of church and state” when government tries to “legislate morality.”

    • ” You are the same people who will go in and scream “separation of church and state” when government tries to “legislate morality.” ”
      I think you are mistaken Jimmy. Those people are Libertarians/Liberals, while these people are Christians. And by legislate morality you obviously don’t mean educating children so they don’t become criminals and providing rehabilitation so people turn away from crime, since those are precisely the things Christians are pushing to legislate. I gather you instead mean lock people up for actions that do not harm other people. You don’t explain how that helps people or society, but then I rather suspect it does not…

    • Andrea Webster says:

      Um, you did notice that this is the North Carolina Council of _Churches_, right? As such, I think issues other that separation of church and state might be higher among their priorities. Issues such as taking care of the poor, as Jesus taught. David’s choice to take his deeply held convictions, informed by his faith, to witness in the legislature speak the to involvement of people of faith in presenting their views to the government.

  31. And from Ohio, currently suffering from many of the same legislative changes, much respect for setting an example of walking the talk.

  32. Chris Woodson says:

    David,
    Thanks for having the courage to act. As a society we’ve become too complacent, as a radical minority is steering us down a precarious path. In solidarity,
    Chris, in Fayetteville

  33. With all do respect, you are way off base. The legislature is doing the responsible thing by not spending money that does not exist. As a voter that helped get them elected, I knew exactly what I was voting for and and am very happy that they are doing what they said they would do.

    I’m curious how you feel about the proposed abortion notification legislation?

    • I was hoping someone would ask about abortion. I would be very interested what Mr. LaMotte thinks about the truly defenseless and weakest among us, the unborn and what legislation should be from a Christian viewpoint there.

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for chiming in. Kicking the ideas around and respectfully disagreeing is what democracy looks like. I’ll get the research to you tomorrow (it’s published and I saw it in print earlier today, but I need to track down the web site), but the upshot is this: the budget shortfall is unnecessary. If the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy were not renewed, the one percent sales tax were extended and corporate loopholes were closed, we would have all we need for education and social programs.

      As for the abortion notification legislation, the NC Council of Churches is an organization of 18 different denominations, 6200 congregations, 1.5 million people, and we come to our positions on issues through long and prayerful discernment. The abortion issue (or, I should say, issues – there are many facets to it) is one on which we do not have consensus, and our official policy is that we are neutral. Obviously, it’s an important issue, and one on which I applaud your being engaged, but it’s off-topic here.

      • You make it sound as though the wealthy are not paying their fair share. Do you really think it is fair that 48% of American’s pay $0.00 in federal income tax? I’m sorry, but there are not that many “poor” people in America. I say let the so-called poor people pay THEIR fair share. If they have money for cell phones, TVs, etc., then they can pay income taxes.

    • Beth McDonough says:

      Greg said,

      “With all do [sic] respect, you are way off base. The legislature is doing the responsible thing by not spending money that does not exist. As a voter that helped get them elected, I knew exactly what I was voting for and and am very happy that they are doing what they said they would do. ”

      My response: Voting is very important, and I’m so glad you voted. Legislators are also bound by the consitution of the state, as David mentioned in his original post: “sound public education is guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution, for example, but is being systematically gutted by the current legislature.”

      The current politicians in power in NC have responsiblities that they are woefully neglecting, no matter who elected them.

    • Chris Woodson says:

      Greg,
      North Carolina (unlike the federal government) is required by state law to pass a balanced budget every year. Nobody is trying to spend money that doesn’t exist…that is simply not true. This is about which cuts should be made, and how deep they should go. The loss in tax revenue that led to this budget shortfall was generated by failings in the private sector; in the free market, as it were: high unemployment, a weak housing market, a rollercoaster stock market and general lack of consumer confidence.

      Drastic times call for drastic measures. One of these drastic measures, already in place, was a temporary one cent sales tax increase…something which most neither knew nor cared about. It is set to expire at the end of the fiscal year, and a big chunk of the budget shortfall is tied directly to this one huge loss in revenue. If political ideology is that important to people like you, then I say “Good luck to you…enjoy that extra penny”. Was it worth it, to slash our schools, lay off thousands of state workers, cut vital programs…all just to prove a point? It’s a lose/lose proposition my friend, and we’ll all pay in the long run.

    • We are going to be spending $2 million to fix a problem that does not exist – with the photo ID for voting.

  34. llleahhh says:

    I am an atheist. As such, I frequently find myself attacked by believers of many denominations, primarily due to my supposed ‘attack’ of faith. My only response has ever been that I don’t have any disagreement with faith, only some of the faithful.
    I am impressed…no, moved…by your strong convictions and sense of morality. I absolutely agree with them (and you), and would proudly stand next to you in any jail cell.

  35. Don Talley says:

    David,
    Your efforts have already succeeded in bringing much needed attention to the issues before our state government. I confess that I do not pay sufficient attention to what our elected officials are doing in Raleigh and your words and your actions have helped awaken me from my slumber. I had no idea that the State of North Carolina is on the precipice of taking such a giant step backwards. I grew up in the state of SC, and have seen that state languish at the bottom of national rankings for education for years. I’ve also seen the unfair distribution of funds which leave the poor and impoverished at a disadvantage as they try to dig themselves out of poverty and make a better life for themselves. Please continue to speak out, to act out, in following your conscience and in response to the words and actions of Jesus Christ.
    Don Talley
    Black Mountain NC

  36. Christina Cowger says:

    Thank you, David, for making this sacrifice and taking this stand on behalf of a lot of folks! These are extreme times and they demand loving, peaceful insistence. The budget should not be balanced on the backs of the poor and less powerful, while so many around us have so much. Way to go!!!

  37. Good on ya David. Wish I was there to support these important concerns!!

    Jacob

  38. Shelaine Bird says:

    Prayers coming to you from northern Michigan. I’m proud to know you’re representing so many people of faith at the NC Council of Churches.

  39. Proud to know you, brother. Keep the faith. I hope you sang for your jailers! Get some rest, and then rise up singing again.

  40. We were released about 2:00 AM, were well treated by the police and correctional officers, and are profoundly grateful for your support. I will write more about the experience, but in the meantime will say prayers of thanksgiving.

  41. Addie Riley says:

    I am humbled by your example and blown away by your commitment. May God continue to strengthen you as you seek to put feet to your faith.

  42. David,

    You are living up to an ideal that transcends Christian thought, and as a Buddhist who has taken more than a few lumps for taking a stand for what is right, I want to commend you for your courage. The meek may inherit the earth, but it’s guys with guts that make the world worth inheriting.

    Blessings of the Buddha.

    Gerry Stribling

  43. Dorothty says:

    You mention some items, but provide NO details, nor a way to find out exactly what the pros and cons are for each argument……there are always at least 2 sides.

    One specific you mention, “to restrict access to the polls by requiring photo IDs”, and again you give no details, and more importantly no alternative solution. HOW would you propose we deal with the rampant voter fraud that occurs at each election? To me, it seems like requiring identification is a reasonable course of action. Do you have a better idea?

    You wrote “The current legislature is making a host of decisions which are contrary to the teachings of Christianity”……what exactly are they doing and how is it contrary to teachings of Christianity?

    For that matter, do you really mean “Christianity”, or do you mean “Christ”, because most of Christianity does not adhere to the true teachings of Christ. Many profess to, but few truly do.

    It seems to me that instead of landing yourself in jail, you could be lending a hand to somebody who needs help. Christ did not try to make ideological statements through actions. Rather, Christ acted. Christ did what was right, and did not try to make some kind of spectacle of himself.

    • Dorothy,

      Thank you for writing and chiming in, and for your passions for information and for ‘helping.’ I hope you will exercise both well pertaining to these issues. Regarding the former, please see the rest of the NCCC web site, which is dripping with information about the various bits of legislation, especially the Raleigh Report segments. If I had laid all of that out in this blog, it would be book length. Rather, I’m speaking to the broader context, and I trust that you will keep reading for the details.

      You are right that there are always (at least) two sides to every issue, but it is silly to suggest that because there are two sides, those sides have equal merit. Every victory in history had opposition — think through a few of them, do they really both have equally valid points to make? …the Civil Rights movement? the struggle to end Apartheid? … World War II?

      As for Jesus ‘helping’ and ‘not making a spectacle,’ I would point out that there are two ways to help: the first is to address people’s need (aid work) and the second is to address the systems which made them needy (social justice work). Both are important, and they are not mutually exclusive. If you look into my life a bit (google away!), I think you’ll find that I engage in both, though I’d certainly love to do more. I hope that when you look into your own life, you find it overflowing with the work you feel most called to do. I applaud your passion for helping, and I trust you are living it out.

      To suggest that Jesus only pursued aid and not social justice, though, requires a pretty selective reading of the New Testament. Jesus did some jail time himself, as you recall, as did the apostles. He also drove the money-changers from the temple, stopped the stoning of a woman, etc. In a word, he interrupted officially sanctioned events and challenged their morality. I’m no Jesus, that’s clear, but I am trying to study his example and live a little closer to it today. That’s a big part of what being ‘Christian’ means to me.

      Thanks again for checking in.

      • Paul Maas says:

        Dorothy’s point is well taken. As I was perusing the list, it dawned on me that there are good *Christian moral* arguments for some of what the NC legislature is doing, which I support (such as vouchers for private schools, as a secular yet liberal/spiritual private school teacher myself) and better verification of voters to prevent fraud (which disenfranchises legitimate voters including minority voters). I won’t address the other list, but I frankly disagree with you that these are black/white issues with only one legitimate side.

        To make it clear, I am not a conservative Christian, and have ties to the Progressive/Thruway Christian movement, actually believe in reincarnation, have attended Unity and UU churches, and have fellowshipped with several Quaker meetings.

        • Thanks Paul. I entirely agree with you that the issues are not black and white with only one legitimate side. There is no one who is perfect, nor any issue that is without nuance and complicating factors. What I argued was not that only one side is ‘legitimate,’ but that it is not good sense to suggest that because there is more than one side to an issue, we shouldn’t ever commit to believing that one course of action is preferable to another. I believe firmly, because of my conscience, which is rooted in my faith, that the issues I’m standing for are in line with my faith and belief. I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that you have to agree with me, or that your faith might not lead you in another direction. I encourage you to be involved, whether you agree with me or disagree. Thanks again for engaging.

          • Paul Maas says:

            I appreciate your gracious reply to my pointed comment. And I admire you, and anyone, who puts into action what they believe. And yes, in my own way I am getting involved, such as posting the comment I did. :)

          • Good point! So you are. :-)

    • Robert M says:

      Dorothy, I know what David’s talking about because I do my own research. What I admire in him is his willingness to take action which he hopes will have some positive effect, even though some may not agree with that action or understand it. What I hope, and I think he hopes, is that he will bring attention to the issues so that people, like yourself, will go on to do the research, become more informed and get active in trying to bring about positive solutions. Sniping at David is not constructive. If you have a better way, or better information, then let your works, your action, shine and light us all a path.
      Having said all that, you are engaged and that’s way more than most people. Let’s do it together, with David.

    • Voter fraud is NOT rampant in NC, in fact it hardly exists. There were 18 cases of confirmed voter fraud in NC in 10 years. That’s less than 2 per year for millions of voters.

      But, if someone wants to engage in voter fraud, what they will have to do now is vote by absentee ballot.

      And Dorothy, remember to be cheerful when you find yourself waiting in long lines on election day. You wanted it that way!

  44. John & Olivia LaMotte says:

    David, Although our hearts ache for you we are proud of you for your courage, commitment and faithfulness. It is our prayer that you may know the strong, sure presence of Christ as you stand for truth and justice. We stand ready to assist in any way we can; just let us know!
    We love you with our whole hearts! We saw you on the local news, so your message is getting out! Love, Dad and Mom

  45. Kitty Kelly says:

    Thank you for taking a stand David. As an educator I honestly cannot believe the state we are in and what the situation will be in each and every classroom this coming fall. It will not just be an “educational” issue but one of children coming to school fed and clothed and warm and loved! Thank you again.

  46. Rev. Deacon Kristi Neal says:

    David,
    I am praying for you. Thank you for being a prophet and having the courage to stand for our convictions as people of the living God. I am also holding the members of our state government in my prayers that God will open their hearts and minds to the message of Jesus. Thank you. Kristi

  47. Suzie Craig says:

    David,
    Praying for you as you take a stand. I appreciate your faithfulness to God, while drawing a line between being a citizen and being a child of God. Having been required to do so myself following Katrina, I know it takes courage, conviction, and faith. Blessings, Suzie

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  1. [...] over the direction that the North Carolina legislature has taken on a host of issues this year, I made the decision to engage in a civil disobedience action in the state House. As it turned out, I didn’t have the [...]

  2. [...] And just to be abundantly clear, this had nothing at all to do with my recent civil disobedience arrest. The NCCC could not possibly have been more [...]

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